Protein made by Bartonella bacteria acts like a mammalian vessel growth factor
Bartonella henselae (B. henselae) are bacteria carried in insect bites that use a sneaky trick to avoid detection. They somehow urge their hosts to produce new vascular endothelial cells, prompting the creation of new blood vessels, or angiogenesis – confusing the immune system but attracting the attention of scientists. Researchers found that B. henselae make a protein, now known as BafA that acts like a vascular endothelial growth factor, which commonly coax vessel development in mammals like humans. In fact in these samples of a mouse’s aorta (artificially coloured green), exposure to BafA causes new vessels to sprout (right) compared to the vessel chunk without BafA (left). Researchers now have lots of options – using BafA to grow vessels for study in the lab perhaps, or one day turning these plucky invaders – that can cause Cat-scratch disease – into medical helpers used in regenerative medicine to restore damaged circulation.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.