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1.  Deciphering the roles of macrophages in developmental and inflammation stimulated lymphangiogenesis 
Vascular Cell  2012;4:15.
Lymphatic vessels share an intimate relationship with hematopoietic cells that commences during embryogenesis and continues throughout life. Lymphatic vessels provide a key conduit for immune cell trafficking during immune surveillance and immune responses and in turn, signals produced by immune lineage cells in settings of inflammation regulate lymphatic vessel growth and activity. In the majority of cases, the recruitment and activation of immune cells during inflammation promotes the growth and development of lymphatic vessels (lymphangiogenesis) and enhances lymph flow, effects that amplify cell trafficking to local lymph nodes and facilitate the mounting of effective immune responses. Macrophages comprise a major, heterogeneous lineage of immune cells that, in addition to key roles in innate and adaptive immunity, perform diverse tasks important for tissue development, homeostasis and repair. Here, we highlight the emerging roles of macrophages in lymphangiogenesis, both during development and in settings of pathology. While much attention has focused on the production of pro-lymphangiogenic stimuli including VEGF-C and VEGF-D by macrophages in models of inflammation including cancer, there is ample evidence to suggest that macrophages provide additional signals important for the regulation of lymphatic vascular growth, morphogenesis and function.
PMCID: PMC3444946  PMID: 22943568
Lymphangiogenesis; Macrophages; Monocytes; Development; Inflammation; VEGF-C; VEGF-D
2.  In Vitro Assays Using Primary Embryonic Mouse Lymphatic Endothelial Cells Uncover Key Roles for FGFR1 Signalling in Lymphangiogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40497.
Despite the importance of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels during development and disease, the signalling pathways underpinning vessel construction remain poorly characterised. Primary mouse endothelial cells have traditionally proven difficult to culture and as a consequence, few assays have been developed to dissect gene function and signal transduction pathways in these cells ex vivo. Having established methodology for the purification, short-term culture and transfection of primary blood (BEC) and lymphatic (LEC) vascular endothelial cells isolated from embryonic mouse skin, we sought to optimise robust assays able to measure embryonic LEC proliferation, migration and three-dimensional tube forming ability in vitro. In the course of developing these assays using the pro-lymphangiogenic growth factors FGF2 and VEGF-C, we identified previously unrecognised roles for FGFR1 signalling in lymphangiogenesis. The small molecule FGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor SU5402, but not inhibitors of VEGFR-2 (SU5416) or VEGFR-3 (MAZ51), inhibited FGF2 mediated LEC proliferation, demonstrating that FGF2 promotes proliferation directly via FGF receptors and independently of VEGF receptors in primary embryonic LEC. Further investigation revealed that FGFR1 was by far the predominant FGF receptor expressed by primary embryonic LEC and correspondingly, siRNA-mediated FGFR1 knockdown abrogated FGF2 mediated LEC proliferation. While FGF2 potently promoted LEC proliferation and migration, three dimensional tube formation assays revealed that VEGF-C primarily promoted LEC sprouting and elongation, illustrating that FGF2 and VEGF-C play distinct, cooperative roles in lymphatic vascular morphogenesis. These assays therefore provide useful tools able to dissect gene function in cellular events important for lymphangiogenesis and implicate FGFR1 as a key player in developmental lymphangiogenesis in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3391274  PMID: 22792354
3.  Canal Cristae Growth and Fiber Extension to the Outer Hair Cells of the Mouse Ear Require Prox1 Activity 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9377.
The homeobox gene Prox1 is required for lens, retina, pancreas, liver, and lymphatic vasculature development and is expressed in inner ear supporting cells and neurons.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We have investigated the role of Prox1 in the developing mouse ear taking advantage of available standard and conditional Prox1 mutant mouse strains using Tg(Pax2-Cre) and Tg(Nes-Cre). A severe reduction in the size of the canal cristae but not of other vestibular organs or the cochlea was identified in the E18.5 Prox1Flox/Flox; Tg(Pax2-Cre) mutant ear. In these mutant embryos, hair cell differentiated; however, their distribution pattern was slightly disorganized in the cochlea where the growth of type II nerve fibers to outer hair cells along Prox1 expressing supporting cells was severely disrupted. In the case of Nestin-Cre, we found that newborn Prox1Flox/Flox; Tg(Nestin-Cre) exhibit only a disorganized innervation of outer hair cells despite apparently normal cellular differentiation of the organ of Corti, suggesting a cell-autonomous function of Prox1 in neurons.
These results identify a dual role of Prox1 during inner ear development; growth of the canal cristae and fiber guidance of Type II fibers along supporting cells in the cochlea.
PMCID: PMC2826422  PMID: 20186345
4.  Prox1 maintains muscle structure and growth in the developing heart 
Development (Cambridge, England)  2008;136(3):495-505.
Impaired cardiac muscle growth and aberrant myocyte arrangement underlie congenital heart disease and cardiomyopathy. We show that cardiac-specific inactivation of the homeobox transcription factor Prox1 results in disruption of the expression and localisation of sarcomeric proteins, gross myofibril disarray and growth retarded hearts. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Prox1 is required for direct transcriptional regulation of structural proteins α-actinin, N-RAP and Zyxin which collectively function to maintain an actin-α-actinin interaction as the fundamental association of the sarcomere. Aspects of abnormal heart development and manifestation of a subset of muscular-based disease have previously been attributed to mutations in key structural proteins. Our study demonstrates an essential requirement for direct transcriptional regulation of sarcomere integrity, in the context of enabling fetal cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, maintenance of contractile function and progression towards inherited or acquired myopathic disease.
PMCID: PMC2655234  PMID: 19091769
Prox1; heart development; myocardium; sarcomere; hypertrophy; myopathy

Results 1-4 (4)