VEGF mediates angioblast migration during development of the dorsal aorta in Xenopus

Ondine Cleaver, Paul A. Krieg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

225 Scopus citations


Angioblasts are precursor cells of the vascular endothelium which organize into the primitive blood vessels during embryogenesis. The molecular mechanisms underlying patterning of the embryonic vasculature remain unclear. Mutational analyses of the receptor tyrosine kinase flk-1 and its ligand vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF, indicate that these molecules are critical for vascular development. Targeted ablation of the flk-1 gene results in complete failure of blood and vascular development, while targeted ablation of the VEGF gene results in gross abnormalities in vascular patterning. Here we report a role for VEGF in patterning the dorsal aorta of the Xenopus embryo. We show that the diffusible form of VEGF is expressed by the hypochord, which lies at the embryonic midline immediately dorsal to the location of the future dorsal aorta. We find that, initially, no flk-1-expressing angioblasts are present at this location, but that during subsequent development, angioblasts migrate from the lateral plate mesoderm to the midline where they form a single dorsal aorta. We have demonstrated that VEGF can act as a chemoattractant for angioblasts by ectopic expression of VEGF in the embryo. These results strongly suggest that localized sources of VEGF play a role in patterning the embryonic vasculature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3905-3914
Number of pages10
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1998


  • Angioblast
  • Endothelial cell
  • Posterior cardinal vein
  • VEGFR-2
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)
  • Vasculogenesis
  • flk-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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