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B. A Protein Discovered to Affect Stretching of Blood Vessels

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at the University of California , San Diego are studying what makes blood vessels stretch to handle the constant pressure from blood flow. According to bioengineering professor Shu Chien, a protein called Rho looks to be responsible for controlling whether the vessel fibers stretch in the proper direction.

Chien: Rho can detect the force and respond to that in such a way that they will trigger the contractile elements inside the cell which involve other proteins in such a way that they make the stress fibers change their orientation.

Narrator: Chien and his team saw that chemically inhibiting Rho caused the fibers to stretch in the wrong direction, which could have dangerous consequences.

Chien: The significance is in that, if the stress fibers do not orient properly, the stress is always there, very high, and that triggers some molecular events. Some of these molecular events will cause the cells to function abnormally such as undergoing programmed cell death.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.