During mouse heart development, ventricular endocardial cells give rise to the coronary arteries by angiogenesis. Myocardially-derived vascular endothelial growth factor-a (Vegfa) regulates embryonic coronary angiogenesis through vascular endothelial growth factor-receptor 2 (Vegfr2) expressed in the endocardium. In this study, we investigated the role of endocardially-produced soluble Vegfr1 (sVegfr1) in the coronary angiogenesis. We deleted sVegfr1 in the endocardium of the developing mouse heart and found that this deletion resulted in a precocious formation of coronary plexuses. Using an ex vivo coronary angiogenesis assay, we showed that the Vegfr1-null ventricular endocardial cells underwent excessive angiogenesis and generated extensive endothelial tubular networks. We also revealed by qPCR analysis that expression of genes involved in the Vegf-Notch pathway was augmented in the Vegfr1-null hearts. We further showed that inhibition of Notch signaling blocked the formation of coronary plexuses by the ventricular endocardial cells. These results establish that Vegfr1 produced in the endocardium negatively regulates embryonic coronary angiogenesis, possibly by limiting the Vegf-Notch signaling.
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