During development both the nervous and circulatory systems must navigate their way throughout the body. Although scientists understand how nerve cells follow this branching pattern, they know less about the growth of the vascular system. In a paper published online by Nature, researchers explain for the first time how the cell-surface receptor UNC5B guides blood vessel development. UNC5B was first identified for its role in guiding nerve cells in developing embryos.
Anne Eichmann and her colleagues specifically examined the role of the UNC5B gene (Unc5b) in mice and zebrafish, and found that it had a crucial function in directing capillary growth. The researchers discovered that when UNC5B receptors meet a molecule called netrin, the result is a 'no go' signal that stops the nascent blood vessel in its tracks, thereby preventing over-branching. Eichmann and her team found that disruption of either Unc5b or netrin led to abnormal navigation of the vascular system throughout the body.
The researchers believe that UNC5B might continue to control the arterial network by repressing vascular branching in adults. Findings from their new study could aid the development of novel medicines involved in the formation of new blood vessels.
Anne Eichmann (Collège de France, Inserm U36, Paris, France)
Tel: +33 1 4427 1693/59, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
(C) Nature press release.
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