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Key to proper blood vessel growth in eye and ear discovered

effects of some of the disease-causing mutations in the Norrie gene and in Frizzled-4. Xu discovered that the proteins from these mutated genes can't interact properly, squelching the signal.

The team now plans structural and biochemical studies to pinpoint exactly how Norrin binds to and turns on Frizzled-4, and experiments to find other players in the Frizzled-4-Norrin pathway.

While stopping blood vessel growth might help make cancer a chronic, rather than deadly, disease, treating conditions such as heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and stroke may be helped by encouraging blood vessel growth to make up for blocked or poorly functioning vessels.

The research was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the National Eye Institute, the Ruth and Milton Steinbach Fund, and the Ronald McDonald House Charities Fund.

Authors on the paper are Xu, Wang, Nathans, Philip Smallwood and John Williams of Johns Hopkins; Alain Dabdoub, Chad Woods and Matthew Kelley of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; Li Jiang and Kang Zhang of the University of Utah; and William Tasman of Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, Pa.


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Contact: Joanna Downer
jdowner1@jhmi.edu
410-614-5105
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
18-Mar-2004


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