To identify genes important to the process of vasculogenesis, we evaluated embryonic vascular anomalies from 100 mouse knockout studies using a novel meta-analysis approach. By applying this method, termed approach for ranking of embryonic vascular anomalies (AREVA), rank scores were calculated for each knockout based on the occurrence of vascular defects during periods of vasculogenesis in specific embryonic regions. As a result, 12 genes (fibronectin, VEGFR-1/Flt-1, VEGFR-2/Flk-1, alpha 5 integrin, Tek/Tie2, VE-cadherin, VEGFA, connexin 45, ShcA, cytochrome P450 reductase, CD148/DEP-1, and EphrinB2) were determined to play critical roles in vasculogenesis. Functional categorization of these genes revealed the fundamental importance of VEGF signaling since 10 of the 12 genes (fibronectin, VEGFR-1/Flt-1, VEGFR-2/Flk-1, alpha 5 integrin, VE-cadherin, VEGFA, ShcA, cytochrome P450 reductase, CD148/DEP-1, and EphrinB2) relate to this pathway. Furthermore, the findings highlight a potential network for regulating VEGF signaling involving integration of fibronectin, EphrinB2, Tie2, and connexin 45 signaling pathways via the ShcA/Ras/Raf/Mek/Erk cascade. In addition to retrospective application of AREVA as done herein, AREVA can be used prospectively to determine the relevancy to vasculogenesis of newly inactivated genes.
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