, Volume 458, Issue 2, pp 315-323
Date: 04 Dec 2008

Role of the Wilms’ tumour transcription factor, Wt1, in blood vessel formation

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Blood vessel formation is important for normal organ development and tumour growth. A highly specialised developmental program of vessel formation exists in the heart and is essential for normal cardiogenesis. From mouse models, it became clear that the Wilms’ tumour protein Wt1 is required for normal heart development. Originally identified as a tumour suppressor gene based on its mutational inactivation in Wilms’ tumour or nephroblastoma, Wt1 is nowadays recognised to have much broader functions in organogenesis and pathophysiology. The multiple tasks of Wt1 are not only limited to the kidney but involve the heart and vascular system as well. In this review, we focus on recent findings about the importance of Wt1 in heart and coronary vessel development and the identified molecular mechanisms. In addition, we discuss the implication of Wt1 in the vascular response to myocardial ischaemia and its oncogenic potential as a promoter of tumour angiogenesis.