Molecular pathways found that control branching of blood vessels
Your body is a complex mash up of different tissues, kept alive by a network of blood vessels. Building this network requires that blood vessel cells talk to each other. Cells at the tips of vessels venturing into tissues have proteins on their surface, DLL1 and DLL4, which bind to Notch receptors on the blood vessel cells that have just preceded them. These interactions tell vessels to grow. Digging deeper, researchers focused on another vessel protein MPDZ, which interacts with DLL1 and DLL4. Genetically tweaking blood vessel cells in mice to reduce their MPDZ levels interfered with Notch activity. Fluorescent microscopy of vessels in the brains of these mice (pictured) revealed more branching (right) compared with normal mice (left). Controlled Notch signalling therefore prevents excessive vessel branching – a potentially useful insight in the search for ways to prevent tumour growth, which needs new blood vessel growth.
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