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1.  Determination of Endothelial Stalk versus Tip Cell Potential during Angiogenesis by H2.0-like Homeobox-1 
Current Biology  2012;22(19):1789-1794.
Tissue branching morphogenesis requires the hierarchical organization of sprouting cells into leading “tip” and trailing “stalk” cells [1, 2]. During new blood vessel branching (angiogenesis), endothelial tip cells (TCs) lead sprouting vessels, extend filopodia, and migrate in response to gradients of the secreted ligand, vascular endothelial growth factor (Vegf) [3]. In contrast, adjacent stalk cells (SCs) trail TCs, generate the trunk of new vessels, and critically maintain connectivity with parental vessels. Here, we establish that h2.0-like homeobox-1 (Hlx1) determines SC potential, which is critical for angiogenesis during zebrafish development. By combining a novel pharmacological strategy for the manipulation of angiogenic cell behavior in vivo with transcriptomic analyses of sprouting cells, we identify the uniquely sprouting-associated gene, hlx1. Expression of hlx1 is almost entirely restricted to sprouting endothelial cells and is excluded from adjacent nonangiogenic cells. Furthermore, Hlx1 knockdown reveals its essential role in angiogenesis. Importantly, mosaic analyses uncover a cell-autonomous role for Hlx1 in the maintenance of SC identity in sprouting vessels. Hence, Hlx1-mediated maintenance of SC potential regulates angiogenesis, a finding that may have novel implications for sprouting morphogenesis of other tissues.
► Expression of hlx1 is associated with angiogenic cell behavior in vivo ► hlx1 selectively marks sprouting endothelial cells during zebrafish development ► Hlx1 is required for intersegmental vessel angiogenesis in zebrafish embryos ► Hlx1 cell-autonomously maintains endothelial stalk cell potential
PMCID: PMC3471071  PMID: 22921365
2.  Molecular control of endothelial cell behaviour during blood vessel morphogenesis 
The vertebrate vasculature forms an extensive branched network of blood vessels that supplies tissues with nutrients and oxygen. During vascular development, coordinated control of endothelial cell behaviour at the levels of cell migration, proliferation, polarity, differentiation and cell–cell communication is critical for functional blood vessel morphogenesis. Recent data uncover elaborate transcriptional, post-transcriptional and post-translational mechanisms that fine-tune key signalling pathways (such as the vascular endothelial growth factor and Notch pathways) to control endothelial cell behaviour during blood vessel sprouting (angiogenesis). These emerging frameworks controlling angiogenesis provide unique insights into fundamental biological processes common to other systems, such as tissue branching morphogenesis, mechanotransduction and tubulogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3319719  PMID: 21860391
3.  Arterial/Venous Segregation by Selective Cell Sprouting: An Alternative Mode of Blood Vessel Formation* 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2009;326(5950):294-298.
Blood vessels form de novo (vasculogenesis) or upon sprouting of capillaries from pre-existing vessels (angiogenesis). Using high resolution imaging of zebrafish vascular development we discovered a third mode of blood vessel formation whereby the first embryonic artery and vein, two unconnected blood vessels, arise from a common precursor vessel. The first embryonic vein formed by selective sprouting of progenitor cells from the precursor vessel, followed by vessel segregation. These processes were regulated by the ligand EphrinB2 and its receptor EphB4, which are expressed in arterial-fated and venous-fated progenitors, respectively, and interact to orient the direction of progenitor migration. Thus, directional control of progenitor migration drives arterial/venous segregation and generation of separate parallel vessels from a single precursor vessel, a process essential for vascular development.
PMCID: PMC2865998  PMID: 19815777

Results 1-3 (3)