Live monitoring of small vessels during development and disease using the flt-1 promoter element

  • Katia Herz
  • Jan C. Heinemann
  • Michael Hesse
  • Annika Ottersbach
  • Caroline Geisen
  • Christopher J. Fuegemann
  • Wilhelm Röll
  • Bernd K. Fleischmann
  • Daniela WenzelEmail author
Original Contribution


Vessel formation is of critical importance for organ function in the normal and diseased state. In particular, the labeling and quantitation of small vessels prove to be technically challenging using current approaches. We have, therefore, established a transgenic embryonic stem (ES) cell line and a transgenic mouse model where the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor VEGFR-1 (flt-1) promoter drives the expression of the live reporter eGFP. Fluorescence microscopy and immunostainings revealed endothelial-specific eGFP labeling of vascular networks. The expression pattern recapitulates that of the endogenous flt-1 gene, because small and large vessels are labeled by eGFP during embryonic development; after birth, the expression becomes more restricted to small vessels. We have explored this in the cardiovascular system more in detail and found that all small vessels and capillaries within the heart are strongly eGFP+. In addition, myocardial injuries have been induced in transgenic mice and prominent vascular remodeling, and an increase in endothelial cell area within the peri-infarct area could be observed underscoring the utility of this mouse model. Thus, the transgenic flt-1/eGFP models are powerful tools to investigate and quantify vascularization in vivo and to probe the effect of different compounds on vessel formation in vitro.


flt-1 eGFP Endothelium Transgenic mouse ES cells 



We thank A. Nagy (Mount Sinai Hospital Toronto) and M. Gertsenstein (Toronto, Canada) for providing the G4 ES cell line, N. Copeland (NCI, Frederick, USA) for providing SW105 cells, R. Schneider-Kramann (University of Aachen) for help with teratoma analysis and Y. Matuschek (University of Bonn) for assistance in vector cloning. Funding was provided to the junior research group of D.W. by the Ministry of Innovation, Science, Research and Technology of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. This work was further supported EU FP7 consortium CardioCell Grant No. 223372 (to BKF).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary Video(MPEG 446 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katia Herz
    • 1
  • Jan C. Heinemann
    • 1
  • Michael Hesse
    • 1
  • Annika Ottersbach
    • 1
  • Caroline Geisen
    • 1
  • Christopher J. Fuegemann
    • 1
  • Wilhelm Röll
    • 2
  • Bernd K. Fleischmann
    • 1
  • Daniela Wenzel
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Physiology IUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  2. 2.Department of Cardiac SurgeryUniversity of BonnBonnGermany

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