Sprouting and anastomosis in the Drosophila trachea and the vertebrate vasculature: Similarities and differences in cell behaviour

Vascul Pharmacol. 2019 Jan;112:8-16. doi: 10.1016/j.vph.2018.11.002. Epub 2018 Nov 10.


Branching morphogenesis is a fascinating process whereby a simple network of biological tubes increases its complexity by adding new branches to existing ones, generating an enlarged structure of interconnected tubes. Branching morphogenesis has been studied extensively in animals and much has been learned about the regulation of branching at the cellular and molecular level. Here, we discuss studies of the Drosophila trachea and of the vertebrate vasculature, which have revealed how new branches are formed and connect (anastomose), leading to the establishment of complex tubular networks. We briefly describe the cell behaviour underlying tracheal and vascular branching. Although similar at many levels, the branching and anastomosis processes characterized thus far show a number of differences in cell behaviour, resulting in somewhat different tube architectures in these two organs. We describe the similarities and the differences and discuss them in the context of their possible developmental significance. We finish by highlighting some old and new data, which suggest that live imaging of the development of capillary beds in adult animals might reveal yet unexplored endothelial behaviour of endothelial cells.

Keywords: Angiogenesis; Cell junctions; Development; Drosophila; Mouse; Vasculature; Zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Vessels / cytology*
  • Blood Vessels / metabolism
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Shape
  • Drosophila / cytology*
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology*
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Morphogenesis
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic*
  • Phenotype
  • Signal Transduction
  • Trachea / cytology*
  • Trachea / metabolism
  • Zebrafish / anatomy & histology*
  • Zebrafish / metabolism