Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Plugging a Leak

The molecular signalling that controls lymph vessel permeability and integrity identified

15 October 2020

Plugging a Leak

In your house, some pipes bring in clean water, and a separate system removes the waste. In your body, veins and arteries ferry your blood around, and another network, lymph vessels, transport waste as well as important immune cells. During some bacterial infections and genetic conditions, these vessels can problematically leak, so researchers are investigating what maintains their integrity. A protein called EphrinB2 interacts with a counterpart receptor, EphB4, which sits in the membrane of the cells lining the vessels. When these two meet, the junctions that link these outer cells change, and when researchers blocked the conversation, leaks resulted. Without the constant crosstalk, the very internal structure of these essential lining cells changes, resulting in leaks at the junctions between cells (purple, surrounded by green fibres). Treatments that restart this conversation could be the key to plugging the leaks.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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