Angiopoietin (Ang) signaling plays a role in angiogenesis and remodeling of blood vessels through the receptor tyrosine kinase Tie2, which is expressed on blood vessel endothelial cells (BECs). Recently it has been shown that Ang-2 is crucial for the formation of lymphatic vasculature and that defects in lymphangiogenesis seen in Ang-2 mutant mice are rescued by Ang-1. These findings suggest important roles for Ang signaling in the lymphatic vessel system; however, Ang function in lymphangiogenesis has not been characterized. In this study, we reveal that lymphatic vascular endothelial hyaluronan receptor 1-positive (LYVE-1+) lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) express Tie2 in both embryonic and adult settings, indicating that Ang signaling occurs in lymphatic vessels. Therefore, we examined whether Ang-1 acts on in vivo lymphatic angiogenesis and in vitro growth of LECs. A chimeric form of Ang-1, cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP)-Ang-1, promotes in vivo lymphatic angiogenesis in mouse cornea. Moreover, we found that COMP-Ang-1 stimulates in vitro colony formation of LECs. These Ang-1-induced in vivo and in vitro effects on LECs were suppressed by soluble Tie2-Fc fusion protein, which acts as an inhibitor by sequestering Ang-1. On the basis of these observations, we propose that Ang signaling regulates lymphatic vessel formation through Tie2.
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