ABSTRACT: During embryonic development, lymph sacs form from the cardinal vein, and sprout centrifugally to form mature lymphatic networks. Separation of the lymphatic from the blood circulation by a hitherto unknown mechanism is essential for the homeostatic function of the lymphatic system. O-glycans on the lymphatic endothelium have recently been suggested to be required for establishment and maintenance of distinct blood and lymphatic systems, primarily by mediating proper function of podoplanin. Here, we show that this separation process critically involves platelet activation by podoplanin. We found that platelet aggregates build up in wild-type embryos at the separation zone of podoplanin(+) lymph sacs and cardinal veins, but not in podoplanin(-/-) embryos. Thus, podoplanin(-/-) mice develop a "nonseparation" phenotype, characterized by a blood-filled lymphatic network after approximately embryonic day 13.5, which, however, partially resolves in postnatal mice. The same embryonic phenotype is also induced by treatment of pregnant mice with acetyl salicylic acid, podoplanin-blocking antibodies, or by inactivation of the kindlin-3 gene required for platelet aggregation. Therefore, interaction of endothelial podoplanin of the developing lymph sac with circulating platelets from the cardinal vein is critical for separating the lymphatic from the blood vascular system.
Blood 05/2010; 115(19):3997-4005. · 9.90 Impact Factor