WAVE2 is required for directed cell migration and cardiovascular development.
WAVE2, a protein related to Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein, is crucial for Rac-induced membrane ruffling, which is important in cell motility. Cell movement is essential for morphogenesis, but it is unclear how cell movement is regulated or related to morphogenesis. Here we show the physiological functions of WAVE2 by disruption of the WAVE2 gene in mice. WAVE2 was expressed predominantly in vascular endothelial cells during embryogenesis. WAVE2-/- embryos showed haemorrhages and died at about embryonic day 10. Deficiency in WAVE2 had no significant effect on vasculogenesis, but it decreased sprouting and branching of endothelial cells from existing vessels during angiogenesis. In WAVE2-/- endothelial cells, cell polarity formed in response to vascular endothelial growth factor, but the formation of lamellipodia at leading edges and capillaries was severely impaired. These findings indicate that WAVE2-regulated actin reorganization might be required for proper cell movement and that a lack of functional WAVE2 impairs angiogenesis in vivo.