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Arch Biochem Biophys. 1997 May 15;341(2):212-21.

Effect of individual carbohydrate chains of recombinant antithrombin on heparin affinity and on the generation of glycoforms differing in heparin affinity.

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Center for Molecular Biology of Oral Diseases, University of Illinois at Chicago 60612-7213, USA.


Two major glycoforms of recombinant antithrombin which differ 10-fold in their affinity for the effector glycosaminoglycan, heparin, were previously shown to be expressed in BHK or CHO mammalian cell lines (I. Björk, et al., 1992, Biochem. J. 286, 793-800; B. Fan et al., 1993, J. Biol. Chem. 268, 17588-17596). To determine the source of the glycosylation heterogeneity responsible for these different heparin-affinity forms, each of the four Asn residue sites of glycosylation, residues 96, 135, 155, and 192, was mutated to Gln to block glycosylation at these sites. Heparin-agarose chromatography of the four antithrombin variants revealed that Gln 96, Gln 135, and Gln 192 variants still displayed the two functional heparin-affinity forms previously observed with the wild-type inhibitor, whereas the Gln 155 variant showed only a single functional high heparin affinity form. These results demonstrate that heterogeneous glycosylation of Asn 155 of recombinant antithrombin is responsible for generating the low heparin affinity glycoform. Analysis of heparin binding to the higher heparin affinity forms of the four variants showed that all exhibited increased heparin affinities of two- to sevenfold compared to wild-type higher heparin affinity form or to plasma antithrombin, with the Gln 135 variant showing the largest effect on this affinity. The extent of heparin-affinity enhancement was correlated with the distance of the mutated glycosylation site to the putative heparin-binding site in the X-ray structure of antithrombin. All variants displayed normal kinetics of thrombin inhibition in the absence and presence of saturating heparin, indicating that the carbohydrate chains solely affected heparin binding and not heparin-activation or proteinase-binding functions. These results indicate that all carbohydrate chains of recombinant antithrombin adversely affect heparin-binding affinity to an extent that correlates with their relative proximity to the putative heparin-binding site in antithrombin.

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