Wang, C.H., Chen, I.H., Kuo, M.W., Su, P.T., Lai, Z.Y., Wang, C.H., Huang, W.C., Hoffman, J., Kuo, C.J., You, M.S., and Chuang, Y.J. (2011) Zebrafish Thsd7a is a neural protein required for angiogenic patterning during development. Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 240(6):1412-1421.
Angiogenesis is a highly organized process under the control of guidance cues that direct endothelial cell (EC) migration. Recently, many molecules that were initially described as regulators of neural guidance were subsequently shown to also direct EC migration. Here, we report a novel protein, thrombospondin type I domain containing 7A (Thsd7a), that is a neural molecule required for directed EC migration during embryonic angiogenesis in zebrafish. Thsd7a is a vertebrate conserved protein. Zebrafish thsd7a transcript was detected along the ventral edge of the neural tube in the developing zebrafish embryos, correlating with the growth path of angiogenic intersegmental vessels (ISVs). Morpholino-knockdown of Thsd7a caused a lateral deviation of angiogenic ECs below the thsd7a-expressing sites, resulting in aberrant ISV patterning. Collectively, our study shows that zebrafish Thsd7a is a neural protein required for ISV angiogenesis, and suggests an important role of Thsd7a in the neurovascular interaction during zebrafish development.