Angiogenesis is a stepwise process leading to blood vessel formation. In the vertebrate retina, endothelial cells are guided by astrocytes migrating along the inner surface, and the two processes are coupled by a tightly regulated cross-talks between the two cell types. Here, I have investigated how the FAT1 cadherin, a regulator of tissue morphogenesis that governs tissue cross-talk, influences retinal vascular development. Late-onset Fat1 inactivation in the neural lineage in mice, by interfering with astrocyte progenitor migration polarity and maturation, delayed postnatal retinal angiogenesis, leading to persistent vascular abnormalities in adult retinas. Impaired astrocyte migration and polarity were not associated with alterations of retinal ganglion cell axonal trajectories or of the inner limiting membrane. In contrast, inducible Fat1 ablation in postnatal astrocytes was sufficient to alter their migration polarity and proliferation. Altogether, this study uncovers astrocyte-intrinsic and -extrinsic Fat1 activities that influence astrocyte migration polarity, proliferation and maturation, disruption of which impacts retinal vascular development and maintenance.

You do not currently have access to this content.