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J Biol Chem. 1997 Nov 7;272(45):28574-81.

Cytokeratin 18 is expressed on the hepatocyte plasma membrane surface and interacts with thrombin-antithrombin complexes.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8N 3Z5, Canada.


During experiments to identify putative hepatic receptors for thrombin-antithrombin (TAT) complexes, a 45-kDa protein was identified by ligand blotting. Following gel purification, amino acid sequencing revealed the 45-kDa TAT-binding polypeptide to be cytokeratin 18 (CK18). The presence of CK18 on the surface of intact rat hepatoma cells was demonstrated by binding of 125I-anti-CK18 antibodies. Anti-CK18 antibodies reduced the binding and internalization of 125I-TAT by rat hepatoma cells. Immunocytochemical analysis, to determine the location of CK18 in vivo, revealed a periportal gradient of CK18 staining; with hepatocytes around the portal triads demonstrating striking pericellular staining. In addition, anti-CK18 IgG associated with perfused livers to a significantly greater extent than preimmune IgG. Taken together, these data provide evidence that CK18 is found on the extracellular surface of hepatocytes and could play a role in TAT removal. Finally, these data, in conjunction with recent reports of CK8 (Hembrough, T. A., Li, L., and Gonias, S. L. (1996) J. Biol. Chem. 271, 25684-25691) and CK1 cell membrane surface expression (Schmaier, A. H. (1997) Thromb. Hemostasis 78, 101-107), indicate a novel role for these proteins as putative cellular receptors or cofactors to cellular receptors.

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