WASp controls oriented migration of endothelial cells to achieve functional vascular patterning


  • A. Rosa
  • W. Giese
  • K. Meier
  • S. Alt
  • A. Klaus-Bergmann
  • L.T. Edgar
  • E. Bartels
  • R. Collins
  • A. Szymborska
  • B. Coxam
  • M.O. Bernabeu
  • H. Gerhardt


  • Development


  • Development 149 (3): dev200195


  • Endothelial cell migration and proliferation are essential for the establishment of a hierarchical organization of blood vessels and optimal distribution of blood. However, how these cellular processes are coordinated remains unknown. Here, using the zebrafish trunk vasculature we show that in future veins endothelial cells proliferate more than in future arteries and migrate preferentially towards neighboring arteries. In future arteries endothelial cells show a biphasic migration profile. During sprouting cells move away from the dorsal aorta, during remodelling cells stop or move towards the feeding aorta. The final morphology of blood vessels is thus established by local proliferation and oriented cell migration to and from neighboring vessels. Additionally, we identify WASp to be essential for this differential migration. Loss of WASp leads to irregular distribution of endothelial cells, substantially enlarged veins and persistent arteriovenous shunting. Mechanistically, we report that WASp drives the assembly of junctional associated actin filaments and is required for junctional expression of PECAM-1. Together, our data identify that functional vascular patterning in the zebrafish trunk utilizes differential cell movement regulated by junctional actin, and that interruption of differential migration may represent a pathomechanism in vascular malformations.