In this study we establish that TAL1/SCL, a member of the helix-loop-helix family of transcription factors, and an important regulator of the hematopoietic lineage in mice, is expressed in the endothelial lineage of avians. The earliest events of vascular development were examined using antibodies to TAL1/SCL, and the QH1 antibody, an established marker of quail endothelial cells. Analyses using double immunofluorescence confocal microscopy show that: (i) TAL1/SCL is expressed by both quail and chicken endothelial cells; (ii) TAL1/SCL expression precedes that of the QH1 epitope; and (iii) TAL1/SCL, but not QH1, expression defines a subpopulation of primordial cells within the splanchnic mesoderm. Collectively these data suggest that TAL1/SCL-positive/QH1-negative cells are angioblasts. Further, using TAL1/SCL expression as a marker of the endothelial lineage, we demonstrate that in addition to the previously described cranial-to-caudal gradient, there is a dorsal-to-ventral progression of vasculogenesis.
Copyright 1997 Academic Press.