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Volume 1, Issue 4, Pages 294-301<294::AID-YEA54>3.0.CO;2-5
Research Article

Distinct Requirements for Zebrafish Angiogenesis Revealed by a VEGF-A Morphant

1Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Transposon Research, Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, University of Minnesota, 6-160 Jackson Hall, 321 Church Street SE, Minneapolis MN 55455, USA
2Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics Graduate Program, University of Minnesota, 6-160 Jackson Hall, 321 Church Street SE,, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

Received 12 September 2000; Accepted 12 October 2000

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Angiogenesis is a fundamental vertebrate developmental process that requires signalling by the secreted protein vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A). VEGF-A functions in the development of embryonic structures, during tissue remodelling and for the growth of tumour-induced vasculature. The study of the role of VEGF-A during normal development has been significantly complicated by the dominant, haplo-insufficient nature of VEGF-A-targeted mutations in mice. We have used morpholino-based targeted gene knock-down technology to generate a zebrafish VEGF-A morphant loss of function model. Zebrafish VEGF-A morphant embryos develop with an enlarged pericardium and with major blood vessel deficiencies. Morphological assessment at 2 days of development indicates a nearly complete absence of both axial and intersegmental vasculature, with no or reduced numbers of circulating red blood cells. Molecular analysis using the endothelial markers fli-1 and flk-1 at 1 day of development demonstrates a fundamental distinction between VEGF-A requirements for axial and intersegmental vascular structure specification. VEGF-A is not required for the initial establishment of axial vasculature patterning, whereas all development of intersegmental vasculature is dependent on VEGF-A signalling. The zebrafish thus serves as a quality model for the study of conserved vertebrate angiogenesis processes during embryonic development.