“I could watch blood vessels for hours“ – an interview with Stefan Schulte-Merker

Prof Stefan Schulte-Merker is fascinated by organ development in zebra fish. In optically transparent embryos, just a few millimetres in size, he observes how arteries, veins and lymphatic vessels develop. In terms of organ development, fish and humans are not so dissimilar.

  • Participation in “Cells in Motion”

    • Cells in Motion Professor of Cardiovascular Organogenesis and Regeneration
    • Supervisor in the CiM-IMPRS Graduate Programme
    • Research interests: in vivo imaging, endothelial cell movements, zebrafish and mouse genetics, biomedical aspects of lymphedema formation in human patients, Hennekam Syndrome

  • Papers in the research focus “cell dynamics and imaging”

    all papers by Stefan Schulte-Merker (Google Scholar)


    Wang G, Muhl L, Padberg Y, Dupont L, Peterson-Maduro J, Stehling M, le Noble F, Colige A, Betsholtz C, Schulte-Merker S, van Impel A. Specific fibroblast subpopulations and neuronal structures provide local sources of Vegfc-processing components during zebrafish lymphangiogenesis. Nat Commun 2020;11: 2724. Abstract


    Lleras Forero L, Narayanan R, Huitema LFA, VanBergen M, Apschner A, Peterson-Maduro J, Logister I, Valentin G, Morelli LG, Oates A, Schulte-Merker S. Segmentation of the zebrafish axial skeleton relies on notochord sheath cells and not on the segmentation clock. Elife 2018;7: e33843. Abstract
    Lopez-Baez JC, Simpson DJ, LLeras Forero L, Zeng Z, Brunsdon H, Salzano A, Brombin A, Wyatt C, Rybski W, Huitema LFA, Dale RM, Kawakami K, Englert C, Chandra T, Schulte-Merker S, Hastie ND, Patton EE. Wilms Tumor 1b defines a wound-specific sheath cell subpopulation associated with notochord repair. Elife 2018;7Abstract
    Mauri C, Wang G, Schulte-Merker S. From fish embryos to human patients: lymphangiogenesis in development and disease. Curr Opin Immunol 2018;53: 167-172. Abstract
    Nadarajah N, Schulte D, McConnell V, Martin-Almedina S, Karapouliou C, Mortimer PS, Jeffery S, Schulte-Merker S, Gordon K, Mansour S, Ostergaard P. A Novel Splice-Site Mutation in VEGFC Is Associated with Congenital Primary Lymphoedema of Gordon. Int J Mol Sci 2018;19: 2259. Abstract
    Wopat S, Bagwell J, Sumigray KD, Dickson AL, Huitema LFA, Poss KD, Schulte-Merker S, Bagnat M. Spine Patterning Is Guided by Segmentation of the Notochord Sheath. Cell Reports 2018;22: 2026-2038. Abstract


    Hogan BM, Schulte-Merker S. How to Plumb a Pisces: Understanding Vascular Development and Disease Using Zebrafish Embryos. Dev Cell 2017;42: 567-583. Abstract
    Karpanen T, Padberg Y, van de Pavert SA, Dierkes C, Morooka N, Peterson-Maduro J, van de Hoek G, Adrian M, Mochizuki N, Sekiguchi K, Kiefer F, Schulte D, Schulte-Merker S. An Evolutionarily Conserved Role for Polydom/Svep1 During Lymphatic Vessel Formation. Circ Res 2017;120: 1263-1275. Abstract
    Padberg Y, Schulte-Merker S, van Impel A. The lymphatic vasculature revisited-new developments in the zebrafish. Methods Cell Biol 2017;138: 221-238. Abstract
    van Lessen M, Shibata-Germanos S, van Impel A, Hawkins TA, Rihel J, Schulte-Merker S. Intracellular uptake of macromolecules by brain lymphatic endothelial cells during zebrafish embryonic development. Elife 2017;6: e25932. Abstract
    Wild R, Klems A, Takamiya M, Hayashi Y, Strahle U, Ando K, Mochizuki N, van Impel A, Schulte-Merker S, Krueger J, Preau L, le Noble F. Neuronal sFlt1 and Vegfaa determine venous sprouting and spinal cord vascularization. Nat Commun 2017;8: 13991. Abstract


    de Bruin A, A Cornelissen PW, Kirchmaier BC, Mokry M, Iich E, Nirmala E, Liang K-H, D Vegh AM, Scholman KT, Groot Koerkamp MJ, Holstege FC, Cuppen E, Schulte-Merker S, Bakker WJ. Genome-wide analysis reveals NRP1 as a direct HIF1alpha-E2F7 target in the regulation of motorneuron guidance in vivo. Nucleic Acids Res 2016;44: 3549-3566. Abstract
    Spiegler S, Kirchmaier B, Rath M, Korenke GC, Tetzlaff F, van de Vorst M, Neveling K, Acker-Palmer A, Kuss AW, Gilissen C, Fischer A, Schulte-Merker S, Felbor U. FAM222B Is Not a Likely Novel Candidate Gene for Cerebral Cavernous Malformations. Mol Syndromol 2016;7: 144-152. Abstract


    Hermkens DMA, van Impel A, Urasaki A, Bussmann J, Duckers HJ, Schulte-Merker S. Sox7 controls arterial specification in conjunction with hey2 and efnb2 function. Development 2015;142: 1695-1704. Abstract
    Kok FO, Shin M, Ni C-W, Gupta A, Grosse AS, van Impel A, Kirchmaier BC, Peterson-Maduro J, Kourkoulis G, Male I, DeSantis DF, Sheppard-Tindell S, Ebarasi L, Betsholtz C, Schulte-Merker S, Wolfe SA, Lawson ND. Reverse Genetic Screening Reveals Poor Correlation between Morpholino-Induced and Mutant Phenotypes in Zebrafish. Dev Cell 2015;32: 97-108. Abstract
    Mackay EW, Apschner A, Schulte-Merker S. Vitamin K reduces hypermineralisation in zebrafish models of PXE and GACI. Development 2015;142: 1095-1101. Abstract
    Roukens MG, Peterson-Maduro J, Padberg Y, Jeltsch M, Leppanen V-M, Bos FL, Alitalo K, Schulte-Merker S, Schulte D. Functional Dissection of the CCBE1 Protein: A Crucial Requirement for the Collagen Repeat Domain. Circ Res 2015;116: 1660-1669. Abstract


    Hägerling R, Pollmann C, Andreas M, Schmidt C, Nurmi H, Adams RH, Alitalo K, Andresen V, Schulte-Merker S, Kiefer F. A novel multistep mechanism for initial lymphangiogenesis in mouse embryos based on ultramicroscopy. EMBO J 2013;32: 629-644. Abstract
    Helker CSM, Schuermann A, Karpanen T, Zeuschner D, Belting H-G, Affolter M, Schulte-Merker S, Herzog W. The zebrafish common cardinal veins develop by a novel mechanism: lumen ensheathment. Development 2013;140: 2776-2786. Abstract