The serosal mesothelium is a major source of smooth muscle cells of the gut vasculature.

Wilm B, Ipenberg A, Hastie ND, Burch JB, Bader DM
Development. 2005 132 (23): 5317-28

PMID: 16284122 · DOI:10.1242/dev.02141

Most internal organs are situated in a coelomic cavity and are covered by a mesothelium. During heart development, epicardial cells (a mesothelium) move to and over the heart, undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and subsequently differentiate into endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells. This is thought to be a unique process in blood vessel formation. Still, structural and developmental similarities between the heart and gut led us to test the hypothesis that a conserved or related mechanism may regulate blood vessel development to the gut, which, similar to the heart, is housed in a coelomic cavity. By using a combination of molecular genetics, vital dye fate mapping, organ culture and immunohistochemistry, we demonstrate that the serosal mesothelium is the major source of vasculogenic cells in developing mouse gut. Our studies show that the gut is initially devoid of a mesothelium but that serosal mesothelial cells expressing the Wilm's tumor protein (Wt1) move to and over the gut. Subsequently, a subset of these cells undergoes EMT and migrates throughout the gut. Using Wt1-Cre genetic lineage marking of serosal cells and their progeny, we demonstrate that these cells differentiate to smooth muscle of all major blood vessels in the mesenteries and gut. Our data reveal a conserved mechanism in blood vessel formation to coelomic organs, and have major implications for our understanding of vertebrate organogenesis and vascular deficiencies of the gut.

MeSH Terms (15)

Animals Biomarkers Blood Vessels Embryonic Development Embryonic Induction Epithelial Cells Epithelium Intestines Mice Mice, Transgenic Muscle, Smooth, Vascular Myocytes, Smooth Muscle Organogenesis Serous Membrane WT1 Proteins

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