Aorta's Cardinal Secret

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Science  09 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5950, pp. 242-243
DOI: 10.1126/science.1181033

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In vertebrates, blood vessels form a tree-like, tubular network consisting of arteries, capillaries, and veins. In development, tissue repair, or cancer, the vasculature expands by angiogenesis, the growth and reorganization of existing vessels. By contrast, the earliest vascular structures in the embryo and the two major axial blood vessels (dorsal aorta and cardinal vein) are thought to be generated by the direct assembly of endothelial precursor cells (vasculogenesis) (1, 2). However, on page 294 of this issue (3), Herbert et al. challenge this dogma by showing that cardinal vein formation is very different from what was previously thought.