Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) stimulates signaling pathways via G-protein-coupled receptors and triggers diverse cellular processes, including growth, survival, and migration. In S1P1 receptor-deficient embryos, blood vessels were incompletely covered by vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), indicating the S1P1 receptor regulates vascular maturation. Because S1P1 receptor expression is not restricted to a particular cell type, it was not known whether the S1P1 receptor controlled VSMC coverage of vessels in a cell-autonomous fashion by functioning directly in VSMCs or indirectly through its activity in endothelial cells (ECs). By using the Cre/loxP system, we disrupted the S1P1 gene solely in ECs. The phenotype of the conditional mutant embryos mimicked the one obtained in the embryos globally deficient in S1P1. Thus, vessel coverage by VSMCs is directed by the activity of the S1P1 receptor in ECs.
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