Lymphatic vessels are critical for the maintenance of tissue fluid homeostasis and their dysfunction contributes to several human diseases. The activin receptor-like kinase 1 (ALK1) is a transforming growth factor-β family type 1 receptor that is expressed on both blood and lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs). Its high-affinity ligand, bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9), has been shown to be critical for retinal angiogenesis. The aim of this work was to investigate whether BMP9 could play a role in lymphatic development. We found that Bmp9 deficiency in mice causes abnormal lymphatic development. Bmp9-knockout (KO) pups presented hyperplastic mesenteric collecting vessels that maintained LYVE-1 expression. In accordance with this result, we found that BMP9 inhibited LYVE-1 expression in LECs in an ALK1-dependent manner. Bmp9-KO pups also presented a significant reduction in the number and in the maturation of mesenteric lymphatic valves at embryonic day 18.5 and at postnatal days 0 and 4. Interestingly, the expression of several genes known to be involved in valve formation (Foxc2, Connexin37, EphrinB2, and Neuropilin1) was upregulated by BMP9 in LECS. Finally, we demonstrated that Bmp9-KO neonates and adult mice had decreased lymphatic draining efficiency. These data identify BMP9 as an important extracellular regulator in the maturation of the lymphatic vascular network affecting valve development and lymphatic vessel function.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology