The lymphatic system comprises blind-ended tubes that collect interstitial fluid and return it to the circulatory system. In mammals, unidirectional lymphatic flow is driven by muscle contraction working in conjunction with valves. Accordingly, defective lymphatic valve morphogenesis results in backflow leading to edema. In fish species, studies dating to the 18th century failed to identify lymphatic valves, a precedent that currently persists, raising the question of whether the zebrafish could be used to study the development of these structures. Here, we provide functional and morphological evidence of valves in the zebrafish lymphatic system. Electron microscopy revealed valve ultrastructure similar to mammals, while live imaging using transgenic lines identified the developmental origins of lymphatic valve progenitors. Zebrafish embryos bearing mutations in genes required for mammalian valve morphogenesis show defective lymphatic valve formation and edema. Together, our observations provide a foundation from which to further investigate lymphatic valve formation in zebrafish.
Keywords: lymphatic; lymphatic development; lymphatic valve; zebrafish.
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