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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fibrin and Blood Clots

The formation of blood clots in mammals is an example of a complex pathway that does not seem to be very well "designed." This hasn't stopped the intelligent design creationists who often use it as an example of irreducible complexity. They conclude that the clotting pathway cannot possibly have evolved.

Last year I posted a bunch of articles on blood clotting because I needed to learn about it myself. Since then I've kept an eye on the literature but I've been too lazy to write up all the new information that comes out on a regular basis. Fortunately, André Brown has come to the rescue. He published a paper on the elastic properties of fibrinogen last year (Brown et al. 2007) and now he reviews a recent paper by his collaborator, John Weisel, that has just come out in Science. André's blog is Biocurious, a blog about biology written by two physics graduate students. The post url is New Perspective on Blood Clot Mechanics.


Blood Clotting
The image above shows blue strands of fibrin trapping red blood cells (red) and platelets (pink) to form a clot. It is from Yuri Veklich and John W. Weisel, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine [Building better clots]. The structure of fibrinogen (below) hints at the complexity. Follow the link in the "Theme Box" to learn more.

Brown, A.E.X., Litvinov, R.I. Discher, D.E. and Weisel, J.W. (2007) Forced Unfolding of Coiled-Coils in Fibrinogen by Single-Molecule AFM. Biophys J. 92: L39–L41. [doi: 10.1529/biophysj.106.101261]

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