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Surface-governed molecular regulation of blood coagulation

Molecular Aspects of Medicine
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0098-2997(83)90002-x
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract Among extracellular biological processes the spatial control of blood clotting is a unique phenomenon. Localization in space has very important consequences in both normal and pathological conditions. Under physiological circumstances a clot is formed only in the vicinity of injury, albeit the prerequisites of coagulation are almost completely given in the whole circulation. The local character of blood clotting is secured by the following major conditions: 1. (1)The regulatory signal initiating coagulation — the damaged vascular wall — is itself a surface on which the majority of clotting reactions take place. 2. (2)The first enzyme, factor XII, of the intrinsic coagulation pathway is activated on the collagen fibers exposed in the damaged vascular wall, although the significance of this reaction in respect of the clotting process is ambiguous. On the membrane of platelets adhered to the damaged blood vessel is activated factor XI, too, which is a well-established participant of the intrinsic clotting process. 3. (3)The further consecutive reactions of coagulation are confined to the surface produced by injury, because the enzymes involved contain γ-carboxyl-glutamyl side chains which are anchored through calcium bridges to the phospholipids of the platelet membrane. The last enzyme of the sequence is thrombin, which is released from the surface. 4. (4)The reactions taking place on the surface form an enzyme cascade, which amplifies the relatively weak triggering signal by several orders of magnitudes. Amplification is ensured not only by the enzyme-substrate relationship of the consecutive reaction partners, but also by spatial confinement, which endows the process with higher efficacy than could be expected on a statistical basis from reactions in solution. 5. (5)It contributes to the efficiency of enzyme cascade that the non-enzymatic regulatory proteins increase the activity of factors IXa and Xa, and thereby the overall process. While the partner of factor IXa, factor VIII, is captured from plasma, factor V, the partner of factor Xa, is derived from the platelets adhered to the damaged surface and orients the binding of factor Xa. 6. (6)The surface localization ensures the protection of the members of clotting system: 6.1. (a)In the activator complexes found on the surface, the spatial arrangement of clotting factors prevents the inactivation of factors by physiological inhibitors or by proteolytic enzymes and specific antibodies that appear in the circulation in pathological conditions. 6.2. (b)Platelet factor 4, derived from platelets, binds heparin and thereby markedly decreases the reactivity of antithrombin III, the physiological inhibitor of clotting factors. 6.3. (c)The above two circumstances are particularly important because blood coagulation also takes place in a “hostile” environment (i.e. in the presence of relatively large amounts and several types of proteinase inhibitors), which is only feasible under protection at the surface. If the clotting factors become free owing to some reason, the inhibitors present in plasma inactivate them, thus preventing unwanted blood coagulation to occur at other points of the circulation.

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