1Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass Eye and Ear, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.
The Notch signaling pathway is a highly versatile and evolutionarily conserved mechanism with an important role in cell fate determination. Notch signaling plays a vital role in vascular development, regulating several fundamental processes such as angiogenesis, arterial/venous differentiation, and mural cell investment. Aberrant Notch signaling can result in severe vascular phenotypes as observed in cerebral autosomal-dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) and Alagille syndrome. It is known that vascular endothelial cells and mural cells interact to regulate vessel formation, cell maturation, and stability of the vascular network. Defective endothelial-mural cell interactions are a common phenotype in diseases characterized by impaired vascular integrity. Further refinement of the role of Notch signaling in the vascular junctions will be critical to attempts to modulate Notch in the context of human vascular disease. In this review, we aim to consolidate and summarize our current understanding of Notch signaling in the vascular endothelial and mural cells during development and in the adult vasculature.