Purpose of review The formation of a hierarchical vascular network is a complex process that requires precise temporal and spatial integration of several signaling pathways. Amongst those, Notch has emerged as a key regulator of multiple steps that expand from endothelial sprouting to arterial specification and remains relevant in the adult. This review aims to summarize major concepts and rising hypotheses on the role of Notch signaling in the endothelium. Recent findings A wealth of new information has helped to clarify how Notch signaling cooperates with other pathways to orchestrate vascular morphogenesis, branching, and function. Endothelial vascular endothelial growth factor, C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase 2 have been highlighted as key regulators of the pathway. Furthermore, blood flow forces during vascular development induce Notch1 signaling to suppress endothelial cell proliferation, enhance barrier function, and promote arterial specification. Importantly, Notch1 has been recently recognized as an endothelial mechanosensor that is highly responsive to the level of shear stress to enable differential Notch activation in distinct regions of the vessel wall and suppress inflammation. Summary Although it is well accepted that the Notch signaling pathway is essential for vascular morphogenesis, its contributions to the homeostasis of adult endothelium were uncovered only recently. Furthermore, its exquisite regulation by flow and impressive interface with multiple signaling pathways indicates that Notch is at the center of a highly interactive web that integrates both physical and chemical signals to ensure vascular stability.
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