Mammalian Fbw7 (also known as Sel-10, hCdc4, or hAgo) is the F-box protein component of an SCF (Skp1-Cul1-F-box protein-Rbx1)-type ubiquitin ligase, and the mouse Fbw7 is expressed prominently in the endothelial cell lineage of embryos. We generated mice deficient in Fbw7 and found that the embryos died in utero at embryonic day 10.5-11.5, manifesting marked abnormalities in vascular development. Vascular remodeling was impaired in the brain and yolk sac, and the major trunk veins were not formed. In vitro para-aortic splanchnopleural explant cultures from Fbw7(-/-) embryos also manifested an impairment of vascular network formation. Notch4, which is the product of the proto-oncogene Int3 and an endothelial cell-specific mammalian isoform of Notch, accumulated in Fbw7(-/-) embryos, resulting in an increased expression of Hey1, which encodes a transcriptional repressor that acts downstream of Notch signaling and is implicated in vascular development. Expression of Notch1, -2, or -3 or of cyclin E was unaffected in Fbw7(-/-) embryos. Mammalian Fbw7 thus appears to play an indispensable role in negative regulation of the Notch4-Hey1 pathway and is required for vascular development.
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