The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 57: 897 - 906 (2013)

Vol 57, Issue 11-12

Identification and characterization of VEGF and FGF from Hydra

Developmental Expression Pattern | Published: 20 February 2014

Lakshmi-Surekha Krishnapati and Surendra Ghaskadbi*

Division of Animal Sciences, Agharkar Research Institute, Pune, India


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) play important roles in the formation of the blood vascular system and in axon guidance, nervous system development and function. Here, we report isolation and characterization of VEGF and FGF homologues from Hydra vulgaris Ind-Pune, a Cnidarian which exhibits an organized nervous system and primitive epithelio-muscular cells. VEGF expression was prominent in the endoderm of the peduncle region and tentacles, as evident from in situ hybridization of whole polyps and its transverse sections. High levels of FGF were detected in the ectoderm of the budding region. The expression of VEGF in endodermal and FGF in interstitial cells was confirmed using sf-1 hydra, a temperature-sensitive mutant strain of Hydra magnipapillata. Tissue-specific expression of VEGF and FGF was confirmed by semi quantitative RT-PCR for ectodermal and endodermal tissues in H. vulgaris Ind-Pune. Treatment with SU5416, a specific inhibitor of the VEGF receptor, did not affect the whole polyp, but did delay both budding and head regeneration, suggesting a possible role of VEGF in nerve cell development, tube formation and/or in branching. FGF expression in the ectoderm of budding region, where the majority of interstitial stem cells reside suggests its role in interstitial stem cell maintenance. Further, activation of canonical Wnt signalling with the glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) inhibitor alsterpaullone caused down-regulation of VEGF and FGF, suggesting an antagonistic relationship between the Wnt and VEGF/FGF pathways. Our results indicate that VEGF and FGF evolved early in evolution, before the development of the blood vascular system, and open up the possibility of elucidating the evolutionarily ancient functions of VEGF and FGF.


Evolution, FGF, hydra, nervous system, VEGF

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