The two vascular systems of our body are the blood and the lymphatic vasculature. Our understanding of the genes and molecular mechanisms controlling the development of the lymphatic vasculature network has significantly improved. The availability of novel animal models and better imaging tools led to the identification of lymphatics in tissues and organs previously thought to be devoid of them. Similarly, the classical textbook list of established functional roles of the lymphatic system has been expanded by the addition of novel findings. In this review we provide a historical perspective of some of the important landmarks that opened the doors to researchers working in this field. We also summarize some of the current views about embryonic lymphangiogenesis, particularly about the source(s), commitment, and differentiation of lymphatic endothelial cells.
Keywords: Prox1; cardinal vein; endothelial cell; lymphatic endothelial cell; lymphatic vessels; mouse embryo.