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Endothelial cells (ECs), which line blood and lymphatic vessels, are generally described to come from the lateral plate mesoderm despite experimental evidence for a broader source of origin, including the paraxial mesoderm (PXM). Current dogma suggests that following specification from mesoderm, local environmental cues establish the distinct molecular and functional characteristics of ECs in different vascular beds. Here we present evidence to challenge this view, showing that lymphatic EC fate is imprinted during transition through the PXM lineage. We show that PXM-derived cells form the lymphatic endothelium of multiple organs and tissues, with a more restricted contribution to blood vessel endothelium. By deleting Prox1 specifically in PXM-derived cells, we show that this lineage is indispensable for lymphatic vessel development. Collectively, our data establish lineage history as a critical determinant of EC specialization, a finding with broad implications for our understanding of vascular development and heterogeneity.

Original publication




Journal article


Dev Cell

Publication Date





247 - 255.e3


cell lineage, endothelial differentiation, endothelial heterogeneity, lineage tracing, lymphangiogenesis, lymphatic, mesoderm, paraxial mesoderm, vasculogenesis, Animals, Cell Differentiation, Cell Lineage, Endothelium, Lymphatic, Lymphangiogenesis, Lymphatic Vessels, Mesoderm, Mice, Phenotype, Transcription Factors