The SRY-box containing transcription factor Sox17 is required for endoderm formation and vascular morphogenesis during embryonic development. In the lung, Sox17 is expressed in mesenchymal progenitors of the embryonic pulmonary vasculature and is restricted to vascular endothelial cells in the mature lung. Conditional deletion of Sox17 in splanchnic mesenchyme-derivatives using Dermo1-Cre resulted in substantial loss of Sox17 from developing pulmonary vascular endothelial cells and caused pulmonary vascular abnormalities before birth, including pulmonary vein varices, enlarged arteries, and decreased perfusion of the microvasculature. While survival of Dermo1-Cre;Sox17Δ/Δ mice (herein termed Sox17Δ/Δ) was unaffected at E18.5, most Sox17Δ/Δ mice died by 3 weeks of age. After birth, the density of the pulmonary microvasculature was decreased in association with alveolar simplification, biventricular cardiac hypertrophy, and valvular regurgitation. The severity of the postnatal cardiac phenotype was correlated with the severity of pulmonary vasculature abnormalities. Sox17 is required for normal formation of the pulmonary vasculature and postnatal cardiovascular homeostasis.
Keywords: Dermo1-Cre; Endothelial; Lung; Sox17; Vascular morphogenesis.
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