Open Access Highly Accessed Methodology article

Targeting the hemangioblast with a novel cell type-specific enhancer

Vera Teixeira1, Natacha Arede1, Rui Gardner1, Joaquín Rodríguez-León12 and Ana T Tavares13*

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, 2780-156 Oeiras, Portugal

2 Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Extremadura, 06006 Badajoz, Spain

3 Centro de Investigação Interdisciplinar em Sanidade Animal (CIISA), Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, 1300-477 Lisboa, Portugal

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BMC Developmental Biology 2011, 11:76  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-11-76

Published: 28 December 2011



Hemangioblasts are known as the common precursors for primitive hematopoietic and endothelial lineages. Their existence has been supported mainly by the observation that both cell types develop in close proximity and by in vitro differentiation and genetic studies. However, more compelling evidence will arise from tracking their cell fates using a lineage-specific marker.


We report the identification of a hemangioblast-specific enhancer (Hb) located in the cis-regulatory region of chick Cerberus gene (cCer) that is able to direct the expression of enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) to the precursors of yolk sac blood and endothelial cells in electroporated chick embryos. Moreover, we present the Hb-eGFP reporter as a powerful live imaging tool for visualizing hemangioblast cell fate and blood island morphogenesis.


We hereby introduce the Hb enhancer as a valuable resource for genetically targeting the hemangioblast population as well as for studying the dynamics of vascular and blood cell development.