Signal transduction in vasculogenesis and developmental angiogenesis
Review | Published: 24 June 2011
Sunita Patel-Hett and Patricia A. D’Amore*
Schepens Eye Research Institute and Departments of Ophthalmology and Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
The vasculature is a highly specialized organ that functions in a number of key physiological tasks including the transport of oxygen and nutrients to tissues. Formation of the vascular system is an essential and rate-limiting step in development and occurs primarily through two main mechanisms, vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. Both vasculogenesis, the de novo formation of vessels, and angiogenesis, the growth of new vessels from pre-existing vessels by sprouting, are complex processes that are mediated by the precise coordination of multiple cell types to form and remodel the vascular system. A host of signaling molecules and their interaction with specific receptors are central to activating and modulating vessel formation. This review article summarizes the current state of research involving signaling molecules that have been demonstrated to function in the regulation of vasculogenesis and angiogenesis, as well as molecules known to play a role in vessel maturation, hypoxia-driven angiogenesis and arterial-venous specification.