MAPping Out Arteries and Veins

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Science's STKE  03 Oct 2006:
Vol. 2006, Issue 355, pp. pe39
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3552006pe39

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Growing evidence suggests that a genetic program specifies the identity of arteries and veins before the onset of circulation. A signaling cascade involving sonic hedgehog (Shh), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), the VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2), homeobox proteins Foxc1 and Foxc2, the Notch receptor, and the downstream transcription factor gridlock is required for expression of arterial markers, whereas only a single transcription factor, COUP-TFII (chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter–transcription factor II), has previously been implicated in maintaining venous fate. Recent work has now implicated two competing pathways downstream of VEGFR2 in arterial versus venous specification: Activation of the phospholipase C–γ (PLC-γ)–mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway acts in arterial specification, whereas the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)–Akt pathway acts to allow a venous fate by inhibition of the PLC-γ–MAPK pathway. Here, we review this work and discuss how activation of the MAPK signaling cascade could stimulate an arterial fate.

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