Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Bloody Brains

Understanding more about how the brain's blood supply develops

12 July 2019

Bloody Brains

Your brain accounts for 2% of your body weight but draws a staggering 20% of your blood supply. This requires a vast network of blood vessels, a network whose growth during development is regulated by signalling proteins, including Wnts and Frizzleds. Wnts on nerve cells bind to Frizzleds on blood vessels to direct their growth. But there are many different Wnts and Frizzleds, so how is the right match made? Researchers honed in on Reck, a protein known to enhance Wnt7 signalling, and genetically altered its gene in mice. Two mutations in particular impaired Reck’s ability to enhance Wnt7a signalling. Fluorescence microscopy of sections through mouse brains (pictured) revealed that mutants (bottom) had severe defects in the development of their blood vessels (pink) and therefore their nerve cells (green) when compared to normal mice (top). This adds one more piece to the puzzle of how our brain's blood supply develops.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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