Spatiotemporal dissection of vascular heterogeneity
The cardiovascular and lymphatic systems deliver nutrients and remove waste products from every cell in the body, allowing our hearts to beat, our brains to process information and our muscles to move. The innermost layer of blood and lymphatic vessels is formed by a specialized cell type known as endothelial cells, which are essential for tissue development and repair. The goal of our work is to better understand the molecular mechanisms underpinning the specification and diversification of these cells.
During embryogenesis, naïve endothelial cells derived from mesoderm differentiate to form arterial, venous, lymphatic and organ-specific vessel beds, acquiring heterogeneous characteristics to meet the demands of the tissues they pervade. We have shown that endothelial cells derived from different mesodermal sources preferentially contribute to distinct parts of the vasculature (Stone and Stainier, Developmental Cell, 2019). Our ongoing work aims to understand what makes endothelial cells from distinct lineages different, and to determine whether these differences impact organ development, homeostasis or regeneration.