Gene expression profiles of brain endothelial cells during embryonic development at bulk and single-cell levels

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Sci. Signal.  11 Jul 2017:
Vol. 10, Issue 487, eaag2476
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aag2476

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Building the blood-brain barrier

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a highly selective physical barrier that protects the central nervous system from pathogens and toxins, but it also prevents many therapeutic drugs from reaching the brain. Hupe et al. used translational profiling to identify factors that are involved in BBB development and distinguish this tissue from other vascular beds. Various brain vasculature–specific genes encoding transport, adhesion, and extracellular matrix factors were differentially expressed in brain endothelial cells compared to endothelial cells from other organs during embryonic development. Several transcription factors that act downstream of Wnt signaling, which is required for BBB formation, were associated with maturation of the BBB, and two of these (Foxf2 and Zic3) were sufficient to stimulate the expression of BBB markers when overexpressed in human umbilical vein endothelial cells. These data offer a rich resource for understanding the unique developmental and functional properties of this highly specialized tissue.

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