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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2011 Mar;68(5):785-801. doi: 10.1007/s00018-010-0566-5. Epub 2010 Dec 7.

The plasmin-antiplasmin system: structural and functional aspects.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bern, Freiestrasse 3, Bern, Switzerland.


The plasmin-antiplasmin system plays a key role in blood coagulation and fibrinolysis. Plasmin and α(2)-antiplasmin are primarily responsible for a controlled and regulated dissolution of the fibrin polymers into soluble fragments. However, besides plasmin(ogen) and α(2)-antiplasmin the system contains a series of specific activators and inhibitors. The main physiological activators of plasminogen are tissue-type plasminogen activator, which is mainly involved in the dissolution of the fibrin polymers by plasmin, and urokinase-type plasminogen activator, which is primarily responsible for the generation of plasmin activity in the intercellular space. Both activators are multidomain serine proteases. Besides the main physiological inhibitor α(2)-antiplasmin, the plasmin-antiplasmin system is also regulated by the general protease inhibitor α(2)-macroglobulin, a member of the protease inhibitor I39 family. The activity of the plasminogen activators is primarily regulated by the plasminogen activator inhibitors 1 and 2, members of the serine protease inhibitor superfamily.

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