In a differential display screening for genes regulated by retinoic acid in the developing chick limb bud, we have isolated a novel gene, termed rigf, retinoic-acid induced growth factor, that encodes a protein belonging to the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family. Rigf transcripts were found in the posterior region of the limb bud in a region-specific manner as well as in other embryonic tissues and regions, including the notochord, head and trunk mesenchyme, retinal pigment epithelium, and branchial arches. Several manipulations revealed that retinoic acid and sonic hedgehog signaling pathways regulate rigf expression in the limb bud. VEGF family members, which promote the migration, differentiation and proliferation of endothelial cells in both blood and lymphatic vessels, are important factors for the formation of blood and lymphatic vasculatures during development. We demonstrated that the anterior border of the rigf expression domain in the limb bud corresponds with the position of the primary central artery (the subclavian artery in the forelimb), which is a main artery for supplying blood to the limb. These observations taken together with results from some experimental manipulations suggest that the limb tissue attracts blood vessels into the limb bud and that rigf is involved in the pattern formation of blood vessels in the limb.
- Blood vessel
- Limb bud
- Retinoic acid
- Vascular endothelial growth factor