Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor signaling is required for cardiac valve formation in zebrafish

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Abstract

Vascular endothelial growth factor-receptors (VEGF-Rs) are pivotal regulators of vascular development, but a specific role for these receptors in the formation of heart valves has not been identified. We took advantage of small molecule inhibitors of VEGF-R signaling and showed that blocking VEGF-R signaling with receptor selective tyrosine kinase inhibitors, PTK 787 and AAC 787, from 17–21 hr post-fertilization (hpf) in zebrafish embryos resulted in a functional and structural defect in cardiac valve development. Regurgitation of blood between the two chambers of the heart, as well as a loss of cell-restricted expression of the valve differentiation markers notch 1b and bone morphogenetic protein-4 (bmp-4), was readily apparent in treated embryos. In addition, microangiography revealed a loss of a definitive atrioventricular constriction in treated embryos. Taken together, these data demonstrate a novel function for VEGF-Rs in the endocardial endothelium of the developing cardiac valve. Developmental Dynamics 235:29–37, 2006. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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