Endothelial cells adopt unique cell fates during sprouting angiogenesis, differentiating into tip or stalk cells. The fate selection process is directed by Delta-Notch lateral inhibition pathway. Classical Delta-Notch models produce a spatial pattern of tip cells separated by a single stalk cell, or the salt-and-pepper pattern. However, classical models cannot explain alternative tip-stalk patterning, such as tip cells that are separated by two or more stalk cells. We show that lateral inhibition models involving only Delta and Notch proteins can also recapitulate experimental tip-stalk patterns by invoking two mechanisms, specifically, intracellular Notch heterogeneity and tension-dependent rate of Delta-Notch binding. We introduce our computational model and analysis where we establish that our enhanced Delta-Notch lateral inhibition model can recapitulate a greater variety of tip-stalk patterning which is previously not possible using classical lateral inhibition models. In our enhanced Delta-Notch lateral inhibition model, we observe the existence of a hybrid cell type displaying intermediate tip and stalk cells' characteristics. We validate the existence of such hybrid cells by immuno-staining of endothelial cells with tip cell markers, Delta and CD34, which substantiates our enhanced model.
Scientific Reports 8, No. 9519, 2018, doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-27645-1
Date of acceptance