Skin of heart

Dr Boris Strilic / Lammert laboratory

The paper

B. Strilic et al., “The molecular basis of vascular lumen formation in the developing mouse aorta,” Dev Cell, 17:505–15, 2009.

The finding

Ecki Lammert and colleagues at the University of Düsseldorf were looking to settle a debate: Do endothelial cells create blood vessels from expanding vacuoles, or do they flatten out and wrap into a hollow cylinder? Using powerful microscopy techniques first author Boris Strilic found that two rows of cells face each other and then push apart, while cytoskeletal proteins compress the cell—just like a toilet roll tube.

The heartache

Strilic spent 2 years searching for evidence for the vacuole hypothesis, using in vitro cell culture and an artificial support. But he couldn’t reliably tell when the cells passed through different developmental stages.

The breakthrough

Strilic developed an in vivo model by dissecting and culturing a developing...

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