Mar. 5, 2001 New discoveries about the way in which cellular receptors communicate with each other have helped scientists gain deeper insights into how new blood vessels develop—which could, down the road, lead to new ways of treating cancer and heart disease, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center said. Their findings are published in the March 2 issue of the journal Science.
The Georgetown researchers collaborated with colleagues at Howard Hughes Medical Institute Laboratories, Duke University Medical Center, and the National Institute of Mental Health on a study of the ability of cells to move toward a stimulus that is important in blood vessel development.
The researchers discovered that the cellular receptor of the important mediator sphingosine-1-phosphate, known as EDG-1, controls the ability of blood vessel supporting cells to move toward a signaling growth factor important for proper blood vessel development. They also found that the enzyme responsible for production of sphingosine-1-phosphate, called sphingosine kinase—which was first cloned and characterized in the lead author’s laboratory at Georgetown—plays a critical role in this process.
“Our work has revealed a completely new paradigm for communication between two different cellular receptors that is critical for cell motility,” said Sarah Spiegel, PhD, the lead investigator for this study and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Georgetown. “It has profound implications for normal maturation of blood vessels during development and for the formation of new blood vessels.”
Georgetown University Medical Center is one of the nation’s preeminent institutions of medical research and education. It includes a biomedical research enterprise, and the nationally ranked School of Medicine and School of Nursing and Health Studies.
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