Establishing a functional circulatory system is required for post-implantation development during murine embryogenesis. Previous studies in loss-of-function mouse models showed that FOXO1, a Forkhead family transcription factor, is required for yolk sac (YS) vascular remodeling and survival beyond embryonic day (E) 11. Here, we demonstrate that at E8.25, loss of Foxo1 in Tie2-cre expressing cells resulted in increased sprouty 2 (Spry2) and Spry4 expression, reduced arterial gene expression and reduced Kdr (also known as Vegfr2 and Flk1) transcripts without affecting overall endothelial cell identity, survival or proliferation. Using a Dll4-BAC-nlacZ reporter line, we found that one of the earliest expressed arterial genes, delta like 4, is significantly reduced in Foxo1 mutant YS without being substantially affected in the embryo proper. We show that FOXO1 binds directly to previously identified Spry2 gene regulatory elements (GREs) and newly identified, evolutionarily conserved Spry4 GREs to repress their expression. Furthermore, overexpression of Spry4 in transient transgenic embryos largely recapitulates the reduced expression of arterial genes seen in conditional Foxo1 mutants. Together, these data reveal a novel role for FOXO1 as a key transcriptional repressor regulating both pre-flow arterial specification and subsequent vessel remodeling within the murine YS.
Keywords: Arterial specification; Dll4; Foxo1; Sprouty.
© 2022. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.