Vogeli, K.M., Jin, S.W., Martin, G.R., and Stainier, D.Y. (2006) A common progenitor for haematopoietic and endothelial lineages in the zebrafish gastrula. Nature. 443(7109):337-339.
It has been proposed that haematopoietic and endothelial cells share a common progenitor, termed the haemangioblast. This idea was initially conceived as a result of the observation that these two cell types develop in close proximity to each other within the embryo. Support for this hypothesis was provided by studies on single-cell-derived colonies that can produce both haematopoietic and endothelial cells in vitro. Although these data point towards the existence of a common progenitor for these two lineages, the presence of a bipotential progenitor cell has yet to be demonstrated in vivo. Through the construction of single-cell-resolution fate maps of the zebrafish late blastula and gastrula, we demonstrate that individual cells can give rise to both haematopoietic and endothelial cells. These bipotential progenitors arise along the entire extent of the ventral mesoderm and contribute solely to haematopoietic and endothelial cells. We also find that only a subset of haematopoietic and endothelial cells arise from haemangioblasts. The endothelial descendants of the haemangioblasts all clustered in a specific region of the axial vessels regardless of the location of their progenitors. Our results provide in vivo evidence supporting the existence of the haemangioblast and reveal distinct features of this cell population.