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      Molecular characterization of lymphatic endothelial cells

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          Abstract

          The lymphatic microvasculature is uniquely adapted for the continuous removal of interstitial fluid and proteins and is an important entry point for leukocytes and tumor cells. Specialized functions of lymphatics suggest differences in the molecular composition of the lymphatic and blood vascular endothelium. However, the extent to which the two cell types differ is still unclear, and few molecules that are truly specific to lymphatic endothelial cells have been identified to date. We have isolated primary lymphatic and blood microvascular endothelial cells from human skin by immunoselection with the lymphatic marker LYVE-1 and demonstrate that the two cell lineages express distinct sets of vascular markers and respond differently to growth factors and extracellular matrix. Comparative microarray analysis of gene-expression profiles revealed a number of unique molecular properties that distinguish lymphatic and blood vascular endothelium. The molecular profile of lymphatic endothelium seems to reflect characteristic functional and structural features of the lymphatic capillaries. Classification of the differentially expressed genes into functional groups revealed particularly high levels of genes implicated in protein sorting and trafficking, indicating a more active role of lymphatic endothelium in uptake and transport of molecules than previously anticipated. The identification of a large number of genes selectively expressed by lymphatic endothelium should facilitate the discovery of hitherto unknown lymphatic vessel markers and provide a basis for the analysis of the molecular mechanisms accounting for the characteristic functions of lymphatic capillaries.

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          Most cited references 31

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              Isolated lymphatic endothelial cells transduce growth, survival and migratory signals via the VEGF-C/D receptor VEGFR-3.

              Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3 (VEGFR-3/Flt4) binds two known members of the VEGF ligand family, VEGF-C and VEGF-D, and has a critical function in the remodelling of the primary capillary vasculature of midgestation embryos. Later during development, VEGFR-3 regulates the growth and maintenance of the lymphatic vessels. In the present study, we have isolated and cultured stable lineages of blood vascular and lymphatic endothelial cells from human primary microvascular endothelium by using antibodies against the extracellular domain of VEGFR-3. We show that VEGFR-3 stimulation alone protects the lymphatic endothelial cells from serum deprivation-induced apoptosis and induces their growth and migration. At least some of these signals are transduced via a protein kinase C-dependent activation of the p42/p44 MAPK signalling cascade and via a wortmannin-sensitive induction of Akt phosphorylation. These results define the critical role of VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 signalling in the growth and survival of lymphatic endothelial cells. The culture of isolated lymphatic endothelial cells should now allow further studies of the molecular properties of these cells.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                December 10 2002
                November 22 2002
                December 10 2002
                : 99
                : 25
                : 16069-16074
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.242401399
                138566
                12446836
                © 2002
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