Background Endothelium-derived nitric oxide plays an important role for the bone marrow microenvironment. Since several important effects of nitric oxide are mediated by cGMP-dependent pathways, we investigated the role of the cGMP downstream effector cGMP-dependent protein kinase I (cGKI) on postnatal neovascularization. Methodology/Principal Findings In a disc neovascularization model, cGKI？/？ mice showed an impaired neovascularization as compared to their wild-type (WT) littermates. Infusion of WT, but not cGKI？/？ bone marrow progenitors rescued the impaired ingrowth of new vessels in cGKI-deficient mice. Bone marrow progenitors from cGKI？/？ mice showed reduced proliferation and survival rates. In addition, we used cGKIα leucine zipper mutant (LZM) mice as model for cGKI deficiency. LZM mice harbor a mutation in the cGKIα leucine zipper that prevents interaction with downstream signaling molecules. Consistently, LZM mice exhibited reduced numbers of vasculogenic progenitors and impaired neovascularization following hindlimb ischemia compared to WT mice. Conclusions/Significance Our findings demonstrate that the cGMP-cGKI pathway is critical for postnatal neovascularization and establish a new role for cGKI in vasculogenesis, which is mediated by bone marrow-derived progenitors.
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