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St. Jude settles century-old debate on origin of mammalian network of lymphatic vessels
Date:10/3/2007

ning disorder with limited treatment options. A defective lymphatic vasculature could also promote obesity, according to a previous finding by Olivers team (http://www.stjude.org/search/0,2616,582_3161_19112,00.html).

The lymphatic system is essential for the immune response to infectious agents; for example, during inflammation, immune system cells travel to sites of inflammation by way of lymphatic vessels.

The St. Jude team studied the origin of the mammalian lymphatic vasculature using a powerful technique called Cre/loxP-based lineage-tracing. This technique enables researchers to label specific progenitor cells in the embryo and follow them as they reach their final destinations in the developing body. Progenitor cells are parent cells that multiply and give rise to distinct populations of cells with different, specific functions in the body.

The researchers suspected, based on previous work done at St. Jude and elsewhere, that the entire mammalian lymphatic system arises from cells called lymphatic endothelial (LEC) progenitors located in the embryonic veins and that express (activate) the Prox1 gene. These LEC progenitor cells were thought to form lymph sacsstructures from which the entire lymphatic vasculature is derived. However, there was no proof of this; competing theories held that other cells, such as hematopoietic (blood-forming) cells contribute to formation of the lymphatic vasculature.

To conclusively address this question, the researchers did lineage tracing to follow the labeled LECs as they left the veins, formed the lymph sacs and spread through the entire mouse embryo. Using additional animal models, the investigators also determined that the loss of hematopoietic cells did not interfere with the early critical phaseformation of the lymph sacsof lymphatic development. This finding indicated that hematopoietic-derived cells were not
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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-495-3061
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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