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J Biol Chem. 2002 Nov 8;277(45):43335-43. Epub 2002 Sep 5.

Disruption of the endothelial cell protein C receptor gene in mice causes placental thrombosis and early embryonic lethality.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Biology, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA.


The endothelial cell protein C receptor (EPCR) is a type 1 transmembrane protein found primarily on endothelium that binds both protein C and activated protein C with similar affinity. EPCR augments the activation of protein C by the thrombin-thrombomodulin complex. To determine the physiological importance of EPCR, we generated EPCR-deficient mice by homologous targeting in embryonic stem cells. Genotyping of progeny obtained from EPCR(+/-) interbreeding indicated that EPCR(-/-) embryos died on or before embryonic day 10.5 (E10.5). Reverse transcriptase-PCR confirmed the absence of EPCR mRNA in EPCR(-/-) embryos. EPCR(-/-) embryos removed from extra-embryonic membranes and tissues at day E7.5 and cultured in vitro developed beyond E10.5, suggesting a role for EPCR in the normal function of the placenta and/or at the materno-embryonic interface. Immunohistochemistry revealed the lack of EPCR in trophoblast giant cells of EPCR(-/-) embryos. These cells, which normally express EPCR, are in direct contact with the maternal circulation and its clotting factors. In EPCR(-/-) embryos, greatly increased fibrin deposition was detected around these cells. To prevent this fibrin deposition, EPCR(+/-)-crossed female mice received a daily subcutaneous injection of enoxaparin through pregnancy. Although some EPCR(-/-) embryos were rescued from midgestational lethality, this regimen yielded no EPCR(-/-) pups. We conclude that EPCR is essential for normal embryonic development. Moreover, EPCR plays a key role in preventing thrombosis at the maternal-embryonic interface.

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