Transforming growth factor β-SMAD2 signaling regulates aortic arch innervation and development

Daniel G.M. Molin, Robert E. Poelmann, Marco C. DeRuiter, Mohamad Azhar, Thomas Doetschman, Adriana C. Gittenberger-de Groot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Aortic arch interruptions in humans and animal models are mainly caused by aberrant development of the fourth pharyngeal arch artery. Little is known about the maturation of this vessel during normal and abnormal development, which is the subject of this study. Tgfβ2 knockout mice that present with fourth artery defects have been associated with defective neural crest cell migration. In this study, we concentrated on pharyngeal arch artery development during developmental days 12.5 to 18.5, focusing on neural crest cell migration using a Wnt1-Cre by R26R neural crest cell reporter mouse. Fourth arch artery maturation was studied with antibodies directed against smooth muscle α-actin and neural NCAM-1 and RMO-270. For diminished transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) signaling, SMAD2 and fibronectin have been analyzed. Neural crest migration and differentiation into smooth muscle cells is unaltered in mutants, regardless of the cardiovascular defect found; however, innervation of the fourth arch artery is affected. Absent staining for nuclear SMAD2, NCAM-1, and RMO-270 in the fourth artery in mutant coincides with severe defects of this segment. Likewise, fibronectin expression is diminished in these cases. From these data we conclude the following: (1) neural crest cell migration is not a common denominator in cardiovascular defects of Tgfβ2-/- mice; (2) fourth arch artery maturation is a complex process involving innervation; and (3) TGF-β2 depletion diminishes SMAD2-signaling in the fourth arch artery and coincides with reduced vascular NCAM-1 expression and neural innervation of this artery. We hypothesize that disturbed maturation of the fourth pharyngeal arch artery, and especially abrogated vascular innervation, will result in fourth arch interruptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1109-1117
Number of pages9
JournalCirculation research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 26 2004


  • Embryo
  • NCAM
  • Neural crest
  • SMAD
  • Vascular innervation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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