Chemical modulation of receptor signaling inhibits regenerative angiogenesis in adult zebrafish


We examined the role of angiogenesis and the need for receptor signaling using chemical inhibition of the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor in the adult zebrafish tail fin. Using a small-molecule inhibitor, we were able to exert precise control over blood vessel regeneration. An angiogenic limit to tissue regeneration was determined, as avascular tissue containing skin, pigment, neuronal axons and bone precursors could regenerate up to about 1 mm. This indicates that tissues can regenerate without direct interaction with endothelial cells and at a distance from blood supply. We also investigated whether the effects of chemical inhibition could be enhanced in zebrafish vascular mutants. We found that adult zebrafish, heterozygous for a mutation in the critical receptor effector phospholipase Cγ1, show a greater sensitivity to chemical inhibition. This study illustrates the utility of the adult zebrafish as a new model system for receptor signaling and chemical biology.

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Figure 1: Zebrafish tail fin vasculature and ease of adult angiography.
Figure 2: Tail fin vessel regeneration is sensitive to VEGFR inhibition.
Figure 3: Molecular analysis of regenerative angiogenesis.
Figure 4: Caudal fin regrowth is limited by angiogenesis.
Figure 5: Examination of tissues and cell types in the zebrafish tail fin.
Figure 6: Effectiveness of chemical inhibitors on regenerative angiogenesis.
Figure 7: Chemical analysis of regenerative angiogenesis in zebrafish lines.


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We thank J. Folkman, N. Lawson, R. Peterson, J. Mably, F. Serluca, G. Naumov and C. Barnes for helpful discussions and/or critical reading of the manuscript. We acknowledge M. Lin and R. Bolcome for technical assistance with zebrafish care and maintenance and K. Johnson for help with graphics. We thank L. Trakimas for electron microscopy work. This work was supported in part by sponsored research agreements from Novartis to T.M.R. and J.C. and by an award from the Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research to J.C. J.C is a Kimmel Cancer Scholar.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Joanne Chan.

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Competing interests

J.C. and T.M.R. receive support for research programs from Novartis. T.M.R. has consulting relationships with Upstate Biotechnology Inc. and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Inc. J.W. and T.O. are employees of Novartis while engaged in this research project. K.B. and M.K. are current employees of Novartis whose employment began after the completion of their involvement in this project. In addition, J.W., T.O and M.K. have personal financial interests in Novartis Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Fig. 1

Nascent vessels are more susceptible to VEGFR inhibition. (PDF 6147 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 2

Real-time PCR analysis of the expression of selected genes during fin regeneration and baseline levels. (PDF 1026 kb)

Supplementary Table 1

Targeted genes and primers used for real time PCR analysis. (PDF 50 kb)

Supplementary Table 2

Summary of statistical evaluation of the effect of genetic background and PTK787 treatment on zebrafish tail fin regeneration. (PDF 43 kb)

Supplementary Video 1

Zebrafish movie showing caudal fin circulation. (MOV 8844 kb)

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Bayliss, P., Bellavance, K., Whitehead, G. et al. Chemical modulation of receptor signaling inhibits regenerative angiogenesis in adult zebrafish. Nat Chem Biol 2, 265–273 (2006).

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