Artery-vein specification in the zebrafish trunk is pre-patterned by heterogeneous Notch activity and balanced by flow-mediated fine tuning


  • I. Geudens
  • B. Coxam
  • S. Alt
  • V. Gebala
  • A.C. Vion
  • K. Meier
  • A. Rosa
  • H. Gerhardt


  • Development


  • Development 146 (16): dev.181024


  • How developing vascular networks acquire the right balance of arteries, veins and lymphatic vessels to efficiently supply and drain tissues is poorly understood. In zebrafish embryos, the robust and regular 50:50 global balance of intersegmental veins and arteries that form along the trunk, prompts the intriguing question how the organism keeps "count". Previous studies suggest that the ultimate fate of an intersegmental vessel (ISV) is determined by the identity of the approaching secondary sprout emerging from the posterior cardinal vein (PCV). Here, we show that the formation of a balanced trunk vasculature involves an early heterogeneity in endothelial cell (EC) behavior and Notch signaling activity in the seemingly identical primary ISVs that is independent of secondary sprouting and flow. We show that Notch signaling mediates the local patterning of ISVs, and an adaptive flow-mediated mechanism subsequently fine-tunes the global balance of arteries and veins along the trunk. We propose that this dual mechanism provides the adaptability required to establish a balanced network of arteries, veins and lymphatic vessels.