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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFemale Reproductive SystemFertilizationThe Appearance of SomitesFirst TrimesterSecond TrimesterThird TrimesterFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterDevelopmental Timeline
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May 29, 2012--------News Archive Return to: News Alerts


Granules are captured by the developing platelets before their release into circulation.

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Math Predicts Size of Clot-Forming Cells

Mathematicians have helped biologists figure out why platelets, the cells that form blood clots, are the size and shape that they are

Because platelets are important both for healing wounds and in strokes and other conditions, a better understanding of how they form and behave could have wide implications.

"Platelet size has to be very specific for blood clotting," said Alex Mogilner, professor of mathematics, and neurobiology, physiology and behavior at UC Davis and a co-author of the paper, published this week in the journal Nature Communications. "It's a longstanding puzzle in platelet formation, and this is the first quantitative solution."

Mogilner and UC Davis postdoctoral scholars Jie Zhu and Kun-Chun Lee developed a mathematical model of the forces inside the cells that turn into platelets, accurately predicting their final size and shape.

They were collaborating with a team led by Joseph Italiano and Jonathon Thon at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston.

Platelets are made by bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes. They bud off first as large, circular pre-platelets, form into a dumbbell-shaped pro-platelet, then finally divide into a standard-sized, disc-shaped platelet. A typical person has about a trillion platelets in circulation at a time, and makes about 100 billion new platelets a day, each living for 8 to 10 days.

Inside the pre- and pro-platelets is a ring of protein microtubules, which exerts pressure to straighten and broaden the nascent cells. But overlying the ring is a rigid cortex of proteins that prevents the platelets from expanding.

By tweaking the number of microtubules in the bundles, Mogilner, Zhu and Lee found that they could correctly predict how pro-platelets would flip into a dumbbell shape, as well as the size and shape of mature platelets.

The work grew out of a long-standing collaboration between Mogilner and the Harvard team -- the kind of cross-disciplinary research that makes UC Davis a center for innovation. It was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 32,000 students, more than 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget that exceeds $684 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

Original article: http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10266