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Blood vessels: The pied piper for growing nerve cells
Date:4/10/2008

se that something critical for regulating the cardiovascular system in the adult also is used for directing nerve growth in the developing embryo, says Ginty. The genome is limited and nature has figured out a way to use things over and over again for unrelated functions.

Further examination of the arteries in mouse embryos confirmed that endothelin is found only in the external carotid. To confirm that the nerve cell projections grow toward endothelin, the researchers removed SCGs and grew each one next to an endothelin-soaked bead. Checking on them three days later, the team found that nerves from the SCGs had grown towards the beads. To be certain that endothelin directs nerve growth in the living animal, the researchers then looked in mice that had the endothelin gene removed. Sure enough, these mice had no nerves growing along their external carotid arteries.

The team then wondered if all growing nerves in the SCG can respond to endothelin. So they looked for the endothelin receptors in SCG nerves and found only a subset of SCG nerves make endothelin receptors and concluded that those nerves somehow already had been chosen to respond to the endothelin made by the external carotid.

How do these nerve cells know which target organ theyre supposed to innervate when they all come from the same progenitor? asks Ginty. This is what were going to study next.


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Contact: Audrey Huang
audrey@jhmi.edu
410-614-5105
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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