Kohli, V., Schumacher, J.A., Desai, S.P., Rehn, K., and Sumanas, S. (2013) Arterial and venous progenitors of the major axial vessels originate at distinct locations. Developmental Cell. 25(2):196-206.
Currently, it remains controversial how vascular endothelial progenitor cells (angioblasts) establish their arterial or venous fates. We show using zebrafish that the arterial progenitors of the major axial vessels originate earlier and closer to the midline than the venous progenitors. Both medial and lateral progenitor populations migrate to distinct arterial and venous positions and not into a common precursor vessel as previously suggested. Overexpression of VEGF or Hedgehog (Hh) homologs results in the partially randomized distribution of arterial and venous progenitors within the axial vessels. We further demonstrate that the function of the Etv2 transcription factor is required at earlier stages for arterial development than for venous. Our results argue that the medial angioblasts undergo arterial differentiation because they receive higher concentration of Vegf and Hh morphogens than the lateral angioblasts. We propose a revised model of arterial-venous differentiation that explains how angioblasts choose between an arterial and venous fate.