Semaphorins are a large family of secreted and cell surface molecules that guide neural growth cones to their targets during development. Some semaphorins are expressed in cells and tissues beyond the nervous system suggesting the possibility that they function in the development of non-neural tissues as well. In the trunk of zebrafish embryos endothelial precursors (angioblasts) are located ventral and lateral to the somites. The angioblasts migrate medially and dorsally along the medial surface of the somites to form the dorsal aorta just ventral to the notochord. Here we show that in zebrafish Sema3a1 is involved in angioblast migration in vivo. Expression of sema3a1 in somites and neuropilin 1, which encodes for a component of the Sema3a receptor, in angioblasts suggested that Sema3a1 regulates the pathway of the dorsally migrating angioblasts. Antisense knockdown of Sema3a1 inhibited the formation of the dorsal aorta. Induced ubiquitous expression of sema3a1 in hsp70:gfpsema3a1myc transgenic embryos inhibited migration of angioblasts ventral and lateral to the somites and retarded development of the dorsal aorta, resulting in severely reduced blood circulation. Furthermore, analysis of cells that express angioblast markers following induced expression of sema3a1 or in a mutant that changes the expression of sema3a1 in the somites confirmed these results. These data implicate Sema3a1, a guidance factor for neural growth cones, in the development of the vascular system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas