Positive-feedback defines the timing, magnitude and robustness of angiogenesis

Donna Page, Raphael Thuret, Lakshmi Venkatraman, Tokiharu Takahashi, Katie Bentley, Shane Herbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Angiogenesis is driven by the coordinated collective branching of specialized leading “tip” and trailing “stalk” endothelial cells (ECs). Whilst Notch-regulated negative-feedback suppresses excessive tip selection, roles for positive-feedback in EC identity decisions remain unexplored. Here, by integrating computational modeling with in-vivo experimentation, we reveal that positive-feedback critically modulates the magnitude, timing and robustness of angiogenic responses. In-silico modeling predicts that positive-feedback mediated amplification of VEGF signaling generates an ultrasensitive bistable switch that underpins quick and robust tip-stalk decisions. In agreement, we define a positive-feedback loop exhibiting these properties in-vivo, whereby Vegf-induced expression of the atypical tetraspanin, tm4sf18, amplifies Vegf signaling to dictate the speed and robustness of EC selection for angiogenesis. Consequently, tm4sf18 mutant zebrafish select fewer motile ECs and exhibit stunted hypocellular vessels with unstable tip identity that is severely perturbed by even subtle Vegfr attenuation. Hence, positive-feedback spatiotemporally shapes the angiogenic switch to ultimately modulate vascular
network topology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3139-3151
Number of pages13
JournalCell Reports
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2019


  • Angiogenesis
  • Endothelial cell
  • Tip cell
  • Tetraspanin
  • Positive-feedback
  • Lateral inhibition


Dive into the research topics of 'Positive-feedback defines the timing, magnitude and robustness of angiogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this