Kawahara, A., Endo, S., and Dawid, I.B. (2012) Vap (Vascular Associated Protein): A novel factor involved in erythropoiesis and angiogenesis. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 421(2):367-374.
Both endothelial and erythroid cells are generated in the intermediate cell mass (ICM) during zebrafish embryogenesis, but the nature of the genes that contribute to the processes of erythrocyte maturation and blood vessel network formation is not fully understood. From our in situ-based screening, we have identified a novel factor, Vap (Vascular Associated Protein) that is predominantly expressed in the ICM, and subsequently enriched in endothelial cells. Vap expression in the ICM was drastically suppressed in the cloche mutant that has defects in both vasculogenesis and hematopoiesis, whereas Vap expression was not affected in the vlad tepes/gata1 mutant. Knockdown of Vap using anti-sense morpholinos (VAP-MO) not only resulted in decreased numbers of erythrocytes but also in the strong suppression of hemoglobin production. Further, we found that Vap knockdown caused the disorganization of the intersegmental vessels (ISVs), which show irregular branching. We propose that Vap plays an important role in the maturation of endothelial and erythroid cells in zebrafish.