Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying blood vessel lumen formation

Bioessays. 2014 Mar;36(3):251-9. doi: 10.1002/bies.201300133. Epub 2013 Dec 9.


The establishment of a functional vascular system requires multiple complex steps throughout embryogenesis, from endothelial cell (EC) specification to vascular patterning into venous and arterial hierarchies. Following the initial assembly of ECs into a network of cord-like structures, vascular expansion and remodeling occur rapidly through morphogenetic events including vessel sprouting, fusion, and pruning. In addition, vascular morphogenesis encompasses the process of lumen formation, critical for the transformation of cords into perfusable vascular tubes. Studies in mouse, zebrafish, frog, and human endothelial cells have begun to outline the cellular and molecular requirements underlying lumen formation. Although the lumen can be generated through diverse mechanisms, the coordinated participation of multiple conserved molecules including transcription factors, small GTPases, and adhesion and polarity proteins remains a fundamental principle, leading us closer to a more thorough understanding of this complex event.

Keywords: Casz1; Egfl7; RhoA; lumen formation; morphogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Vessels / cytology*
  • Blood Vessels / growth & development*
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Organogenesis*


  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins