EMAIL THIS PAGE TO A FRIEND

Developmental biology

Defective lymphatic valve development and chylothorax in mice with a lymphatic-specific deletion of Connexin43.


PMID 27899284

Abstract

Lymphatic valves (LVs) are cusped luminal structures that permit the movement of lymph in only one direction and are therefore critical for proper lymphatic vessel function. Congenital valve aplasia or agenesis can, in some cases, be a direct cause of lymphatic disease. Knowledge about the molecular mechanisms operating during the development and maintenance of LVs may thus aid in the establishment of novel therapeutic approaches to treat lymphatic disorders. In this study, we examined the role of Connexin43 (Cx43), a gap junction protein expressed in lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs), during valve development. Mouse embryos with a null mutation in Cx43 (Gja1) were previously shown to completely lack mesenteric LVs at embryonic day 18. However, interpreting the phenotype of Cx43(-/-) mice was complicated by the fact that global deletion of Cx43 causes perinatal death due to heart defects during embryogenesis. We have now generated a mouse model (Cx43(∆LEC)) with a lymphatic-specific ablation of Cx43 and show that the absence of Cx43 in LECs causes a delay (rather than a complete block) in LV initiation, an increase in immature valves with incomplete leaflet elongation, a reduction in the total number of valves, and altered lymphatic capillary patterning. The physiological consequences of these lymphatic changes were leaky valves, insufficient lymph transport and reflux, and a high incidence of lethal chylothorax. These results demonstrate that the expression of Cx43 is specifically required in LECs for normal development of LVs.