Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Circulatory Signposts
07 July 2015

Circulatory Signposts

During an animal’s development, a growing network of blood vessels tracks the formation of new organs, to supply them with vital oxygen and nutrients. This tightly-regulated process is extremely complex, but recent work on zebrafish embryos has revealed several key signalling molecules involved in patterning the circulatory system. For example, the absence of a specific signal receptor, gpr124, causes a dramatic loss of blood vessels connected to the brain. Here are images of a developing zebrafish brain, with several layers of blood vessels represented in different colours; in the embryo without gpr124 (bottom row), there are far fewer blood vessels than in a typical embryo (top row), both by five days after fertilisation (on the left) and 11 days later (central and right-hand panels). Gpr124 is thought to be part of an important signalling cascade, helping to guide the tips of new blood vessels to the correct destinations.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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