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Developmental origins of vascular smooth muscle cells

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 — Poster Session II

Noon – 2:00 p.m

Natcher Conference Center, Building 45




  • A.N. Stratman
  • B.M. Weinstein


Mural cells play an indispensable role in promoting long-term stabilization of the endothelial cell (EC) layer lining the vascular tube and are critical for proper maintenance of the circulatory system both during development and as an adult. Defects in mural cell differentiation or interactions with ECs are implicated in stroke and other human vascular pathologies, and understanding the developmental origins of these cells is of particular importance. Here, we are studying the ontogeny of mural cells using double-transgenic zebrafish lines expressing mCherry protein under control of the EC specific kdra promoter (kdra:mCherry; to visualize blood vessels), and EGFP under control of the smooth muscle 22 alpha promoter (sm22a:EGFP; to trace mural cells) to carry out live, two-photon time-lapse imaging of the fluorescently labeled cells to make direct observations of their origins, migration, differentiation and incorporation into tissues. Preliminary experiments demonstrate an accumulation of mural (EGFP-positive) cells around the dorsal aorta that begins at 2-3 days post-fertilization and continuing until a layer of EGFP-positive cells completely surrounds the vessel. Our data suggest that nascent mural cells may be migrating to the dorsal aorta from the surrounding somites, and we are currently carrying out definitive lineage-tracing experiments to investigate this further.

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