Blood vessel cells are instructed to form tube-like structures

August 29, 2008

How do blood vessel cells understand that they should organise themselves in tubes and not in layers? A research group from Uppsala University shows for the first time that a special type of "instructor" molecule is needed to accomplish this. These findings, published in the scientific journal Blood, might be an important step towards using stem cells to build new organs.

In order for a body to develop and function the cells in the body must be able to organise themselves in relation to each other. The way in which cells are arranged depends on the organ where they are located. Blood vessel cells need to form three-dimensional, tube-like structures that can transport blood. But how do blood vessel cells know that they should do that? An important part of the communication between cells and their environment is the use of growth factors. These are proteins that bind to receptors on the surface of the cell that receives the information. When the receptor in turn forms a complex with other proteins, on the inside of the cell, the read-out from the DNA can be altered. The information has "arrived".

VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) is a family of closely related growth factors that control blood vessel cells throughout life. Blood vessel development in the foetus as well as later in life, for example during wound healing, is regulated by VEGF. In the present study the research group has examined how VEGF can instruct blood vessel cells to arrange themselves into a tube. The answer is that some variants of VEGF have the ability to attract another protein, an instructor molecule, which is joined together with VEGF and its reeptor. The combination of instructor molecule, VEGF and receptor results in that a specific signal is sent inside the blood vessel cells, making them form a tube. Without the instructor molecule the cells line up next to each other, in a layer.

These results may become very useful. Today stem cells are used to create new cells, organs and even tissues, that in the future might be used to for transplantation instead of donated organs. If a patient's own stem cells are used the problem with organ rejection is avoided. But so far there has been a challenge to create three-dimensional structures from stem cells.

Our contribution can make it possible to create blood vessels from stem cells and to direct them to form a tube instead of a layer. Perhaps this knowledge can be transferred to the formation of other tube-like structures in the body, such as the lung and intestines. The perspectives for the future are very exciting, says Lena Claesson-Welsh, who has led the study.

Source: Uppsala University

Explore further: Genome editing with CRISPR-Cas9 prevents angiogenesis of the retina

Related Stories

Genome editing with CRISPR-Cas9 prevents angiogenesis of the retina

July 24, 2017
A research team from the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear has successfully prevented mice from developing angiogenesis of the retina—the sensory tissue at the back of the eye—using gene-editing ...

New insights into complex processes of blood-brain barrier developing

July 18, 2017
The blood-brain barrier is a crucial protection mechanism: It is a highly selective physical barrier that prevents pathogens and toxins in the circulatory system from entering the central nervous system where they could create ...

Protein prevents excess fluid from entering lung tissue

July 18, 2017
A protein found in the cells lining blood vessels plays a central role in preventing fluid and inflammatory cells from leaking into lung tissue in a low-oxygen environment, Weill Cornell Medicine researchers discovered.

How blood vessels slow down and accelerate tumor growth

July 18, 2017
Cancer cells have an enormous need for oxygen and nutrients. Therefore, growing tumors rely on the simultaneous growth of capillaries, the fine branching blood vessels that form their supply network. The formation of new ...

Could aggressive blood pressure treatments lead to kidney damage?

July 18, 2017
Aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be damaging the organs, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests.

How the immune system causes heart disease

July 21, 2017
Heart disease is among the leading causes of death globally and imposes a significant burden on the health-care system. We know some of the causes of heart disease: smoking, unhealthy diet, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes ...

Recommended for you

Molecular hitchhiker on human protein signals tumors to self-destruct

July 24, 2017
Powerful molecules can hitch rides on a plentiful human protein and signal tumors to self-destruct, a team of Vanderbilt University engineers found.

Researchers develop new method to generate human antibodies

July 24, 2017
An international team of scientists has developed a method to rapidly produce specific human antibodies in the laboratory. The technique, which will be described in a paper to be published July 24 in The Journal of Experimental ...

New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy

July 24, 2017
A new way of producing the seasonal flu vaccine could speed up the process and provide better protection against infection.

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.