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J Biol Chem. 1992 Dec 25;267(36):26104-9.

The function of calcium in protein C activation by thrombin and the thrombin-thrombomodulin complex can be distinguished by mutational analysis of protein C derivatives.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City 73104.


Protein C activation is catalyzed on endothelium by a complex between thrombin and thrombomodulin. Ca2+ stimulates protein C activation in the presence, and inhibits in the absence, of thrombomodulin. Protein C has Asp residues at the P3 and P3' positions relative to the scissile bond at Arg169-Leu. To determine the contribution of these residues to the Ca2+ effect on activation, we have expressed human 4-carboxyglutamic acid (Gla)-domainless protein C and 3 mutants with Asp-->Gly substitutions at P3, P3', and both positions. Ca2+ interaction with the protein C derivatives was monitored by changes in intrinsic fluorescence, and the Ca2+ dependence of activation by thrombin and a complex of thrombin-thrombomodulin with a soluble thrombomodulin derivative (the fourth through sixth epidermal growth factor domains). The affinity for Ca2+ of the mutants was reduced 3-6-fold, which was reflected by a comparable change in the Ca2+ concentration required for the half-maximal rate of activation by the thrombin-thrombomodulin complex. However, Ca2+ no longer effectively inhibited activation of the mutants by thrombin alone. We conclude that 1) the Asp residues play a specific role in the Ca(2+)-dependent inhibition of protein C activation by thrombin; 2) these mutations alter the affinity of Ca2+ for the high affinity binding site; and 3) the Asp residues in the P3 and P3' sites do not contribute in a positive fashion to rapid activation by the thrombin-thrombomodulin complex.

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