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J Biol Chem. 1999 Dec 3;274(49):34556-65.

Enhancement of heparin cofactor II anticoagulant activity.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Center for Thrombosis and Hemostasis, The University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7035, USA.


Heparin cofactor II (HCII) is a serpin whose thrombin inhibition activity is accelerated by glycosaminoglycans. We describe the novel properties of a carboxyl-terminal histidine-tagged recombinant HCII (rHCII-CHis(6)). Thrombin inhibition by rHCII-CHis(6) was increased >2-fold at approximately 5 microgram/ml heparin compared with wild-type recombinant HCII (wt-rHCII) at 50-100 microgram/ml heparin. Enhanced activity of rHCII-CHis(6) was reversed by treatment with carboxypeptidase A. We assessed the role of the HCII acidic domain by constructing amino-terminal deletion mutants (Delta1-52, Delta1-68, and Delta1-75) in wt-rHCII and rHCII-CHis(6). Without glycosaminoglycan, unlike wt-rHCII deletion mutants, the rHCII-CHis(6) deletion mutants were less active compared with full-length rHCII-CHis(6). With glycosaminoglycans, Delta1-68 and Delta1-75 rHCIIs were all less active. We assessed the character of the tag by comparing rHCII-CHis(6), rHCII-CAla(6), and rHCII-CLys(6) to wt-rHCII. Only rHCII-CHis(6) had increased activity with heparin, whereas all three mutants have increased heparin binding. We generated a carboxyl-terminal histidine-tagged recombinant antithrombin III to study the tag on another serpin. Interestingly, this mutant antithrombin III had reduced heparin cofactor activity compared with wild-type protein. In a plasma-based assay, the glycosaminoglycan-dependent inhibition of thrombin by rHCII-CHis(6) was significantly greater compared with wt-rHCII. Thus, HCII variants with increased function, such as rHCII-CHis(6), may offer novel reagents for clinical application.

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