• Mesenchymal stem cells;
  • Pericytes;
  • Multipotential differentiation;
  • Angiogenesis;
  • zebrafish


There is accumulating evidence that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have their origin as perivascular cells (PVCs) in vivo, but precisely identifying them has been a challenge, as they have no single definitive marker and are rare. We have developed a fluorescent transgenic vertebrate model in which PVC can be visualized in vivo based upon sdf1 expression in the zebrafish. Prospective isolation and culture of sdf1DsRed PVC demonstrated properties consistent with MSC including prototypical cell surface marker expression; mesodermal differentiation into adipogenic, osteogenic, and chondrogenic lineages; and the ability to support hematopoietic cells. Global proteomic studies performed by two-dimensional liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry revealed a high degree of similarity to human MSC (hMSC) and discovery of novel markers (CD99, CD151, and MYOF) that were previously unknown to be expressed by hMSC. Dynamic in vivo imaging during fin regeneration showed that PVC may arise from undifferentiated mesenchyme providing evidence of a PVC-MSC relationship. This is the first model, established in zebrafish, in which MSC can be visualized in vivo and will allow us to better understand their function in a native environment. Stem Cells 2014;32:2767–2779