Development of the vascular system is regulated by multiple signaling pathways mediated by receptor tyrosine kinases. Among them, angiopoietin (Ang)/Tie signaling regulates lymphatic and blood vessel development in mammals. Of the two Tie receptors, Tie2 is well known as a key mediator of Ang/Tie signaling, but, unexpectedly, recent studies have revealed that the Tie2 locus has been lost in many vertebrate species, whereas the Tie1 gene is more commonly present. However, Tie1-driven signaling pathways, including ligands and cellular functions, are not well understood. Here, we performed comprehensive mutant analyses of angiopoietins and Tie receptors in zebrafish and found that only angpt1 and tie1 mutants show defects in trunk lymphatic vessel development. Among zebrafish angiopoietins, only Angpt1 binds to Tie1 as a ligand. We indirectly monitored Ang1/Tie1 signaling and detected Tie1 activation in sprouting endothelial cells, where Tie1 inhibits nuclear import of EGFP-Foxo1a. Angpt1/Tie1 signaling functions in endothelial cell migration and proliferation, and in lymphatic specification during early lymphangiogenesis, at least in part by modulating Vegfc/Vegfr3 signaling. Thus, we show that Angpt1/Tie1 signaling constitutes an essential signaling pathway for lymphatic development in zebrafish.

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