PloS one

Notch1 is pan-endothelial at the onset of flow and regulated by flow.

PMID 25830332


Arteriovenous differentiation is a key event during vascular development and hemodynamic forces play an important role. Arteriovenous gene expression is present before the onset of flow, however it remains plastic and flow can alter arteriovenous identity. Notch signaling is especially important in the genetic determination of arteriovenous identity. Nevertheless, the effect of the onset of circulation on Notch expression and signaling has not been studied. The aim of this study is therefore to investigate the interaction of Notch1 signaling and hemodynamic forces during early vascular development. We find that the onset of Notch1 expression coincides with the onset of flow, and that expression is pan-endothelial at the onset of circulation in mouse embryos and only becomes arterial-specific after remodeling has occurred. When we ablate flow in the early embryo, endothelial cells fail to express Notch1. We show that low and disturbed flow patterns upregulate Notch1 expression in endothelial cells in vitro, but that higher shear stress levels do not (≥10 dynes/cm2). Using siRNA, we knocked down Notch1 to investigate the role of Notch1 in mechanotransduction. When we applied shear stress levels similar to those found in embryonic arteries, we found an upregulation of Klf2, Dll1, Dll4, Jag1, Hey1, Nrp1 and CoupTFII but that only Dll4, Hey1, Nrp1 and EphB4 required Notch1 for flow-induced expression. Our results therefore indicate that Notch1 can modulate mechanotransduction but is not a critical mediator of the process since many genes mechanotransduce normally in the absence of Notch1, including genes involved in arteriovenous differentiation.