We have used a subtractive method to clone novel messages enriched in the heart. Here we show that one such message, bves (blood vessel/epicardial substance) is a novel protein that is highly conserved between chicken and mouse. The bves message is detected at high levels in early chick hearts. Using anti-Bves antibodies, we show expression in cells of the proepicardial organ, migrating epicardium, epicardial-derived mesenchyme, and smooth muscle of the developing intracardiac arterial system, including the coronary arteries. Our data suggest that Bves is an early marker of developing vascular smooth muscle cells. In addition, the expression pattern of Bves protein reveals the patterning of intracardiac vascular smooth muscle and possible insights into the cellular regulation of smooth muscle differentiation during vasculogenesis.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.