When you’re trying to contain your anger, you may find your heart races and jaw clenches tight. Emotion connects these two seemingly disparate entities. However that isn’t all that links them. Researchers discovered that during development both the heart and jaw depend on the protein PDGFRalpha. Staining the cartilage (blue) of zebrafish with either normal (left) or mutant PDGFRalpha (middle and right) revealed that the mutants had defects in the structure of their jaws. Looking at their hearts revealed structural abnormalities here too, which resulted from the heart cells failing to move into their proper positions during development. This misdirection of cells also underlies the jaw defects. In both cases PDGFRalpha acts as a sensor, picking up chemical signals that tell the cells where to go. Whether navigating the developing heart or jaw, PDGFRalpha is needed to steer things in the right direction.
Written by Lux Fatimathas
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