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Receptor Links Blood Vessels, Axons

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Science  27 Mar 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5359, pp. 2042
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5359.2042

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In the 20 March issue of Cell, a group of biochemists reports that it has identified a new receptor molecule on the endothelial cells that line blood vessels. The receptor, called neuropilin, picks up a signal from VEGF, a protein made by tissues--including cancerous tumors--that need new blood vessels. The new receptor turns out to be the same one that nerve axons use to detect Semaphorin III, a protein that helps steer axons to their proper destinations in the developing nervous system, and therefore could provide researchers with a new target that might fight cancer by blocking tumor growth.