Skip Over Navigation Links

Web Exclusives: Movies

Beating Bleeding
Allison MacLachlan
Posted July 14, 2011

When you cut your finger, there's more going on than bleeding. After an injury, cells rupture and blood clotting proteins rush in.

Up close, the proteins look like tangled webs. They cling on tightly to a special fatty molecule called PS with the help of another fatty molecule called PE. This activity eventually stops blood from dripping out of your finger.

Scientists know that the interaction between the clotting protein in purple and fatty molecules in green is key to making blood congeal at a wound site, but they haven't been certain why. Using computer models, researchers [including James Morrissey, Chad Rienstra and Emad Tajkhorshid at the University of Illinois] found that PE molecules stick their fatty middles weakly onto clotting proteins. This leaves space for PS molecules to grip more strongly. Notice how this interaction has pulled the protein deeper into the fatty layer.

Understanding these dynamics could help create new drugs to regulate clotting.

Learn about related research

This page last reviewed on July 20, 2011