Recent findings indicate that mitochondrial respiration regulates blood endothelial cell proliferation; however, its role in differentiating lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) is unknown. We hypothesized that mitochondria could work as a sensor of LECs’ metabolic specific needs by determining their functional requirements according to their differentiation status and local tissue microenvironment. Accordingly, we conditionally deleted the QPC subunit of mitochondrial complex III in differentiating LECs of mouse embryos. Unexpectedly, mutant mice were devoid of a lymphatic vasculature by mid-gestation, a consequence of the specific down-regulation of main LEC fate regulators, particularly Vegfr3, leading to the loss of LEC fate. Mechanistically, this is a result of reduced H3K4me3 and H3K27ac in the genomic locus of key LEC fate controllers (e.g., Vegfr3 and Prox1). Our findings indicate that by sensing the LEC differentiation status and microenvironmental metabolic conditions, mitochondrial complex III regulates the critical Prox1-Vegfr3 feedback loop and, therefore, LEC fate specification and maintenance.
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