Protein C (PC) is activated to an essential anticoagulant enzyme (activated PC or APC) by thrombin (T) bound to thrombomodulin (TM), a membrane receptor present on the surface of endothelial cells. The understanding of this complex biological system is in part limited due to the lack of integration of experimental and structural data. In the work presented here, we analyze the PC-T-TM pathway in the context of both types of information. First, structural analysis of the serine protease domain of PC suggests that a positively charged cluster of amino acids could be involved in the activation process. To investigate the importance of these basic amino acids, two recombinant PC mutants were constructed using computer-guided site-directed mutagenesis. The double mutant had the K62N/K63D substitution and in the single mutant, K86 was changed to S. Both mutants were activated by free thrombin at rates equivalent to that of wild-type PC (wt-PC) and they demonstrated similar calcium-dependent inhibition of their activation. The K86S mutant and wt-PC were activated by thrombin bound to soluble TM at a similar rate. In contrast, the K62N/ K63D mutant was activated by the T-TM complex at a 10-fold lower catalytic efficiency due to a lowering in k(cat) and increase in Km. Molecular models for PC and thrombin bound to a segment of TM were developed. The experimental results and the modeling data both indicate that electrostatic interactions are of crucial importance to orient PC onto the T-TM complex. A key electropositive region centered around loops 37 and 60 of PC is defined. PC loop 37 is located 7-8 A from the TM epidermal growth factor (EGF) 4 while the loop 60 is about 10 A away from TM EGF4. Both loops are far from thrombin. A key function of TM could be to create an additional binding site for PC. The Gla domain of PC points toward the membrane and away from thrombin or the EGF modules of TM during the activation process.
|Status||Published - 1999|