On the mechanism of αC polymer formation in fibrin.

Center for Vascular and Inflammatory Diseases and the Department of Biochemistry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, United States.
Biochemistry (Impact Factor: 3.38). 03/2012; 51(12):2526-38. DOI: 10.1021/bi2017848
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Our previous studies revealed that the fibrinogen αC-domains undergo conformational changes and adopt a physiologically active conformation upon their self-association into αC polymers in fibrin. In the present study, we analyzed the mechanism of αC polymer formation and tested our hypothesis that self-association of the αC-domains occurs through the interaction between their N-terminal subdomains and may include β-hairpin swapping. Our binding experiments performed by size-exclusion chromatography and optical trap-based force spectroscopy revealed that the αC-domains self-associate exclusively through their N-terminal subdomains, while their C-terminal subdomains were found to interact with the αC-connectors that tether the αC-domains to the bulk of the molecule. This interaction should reinforce the structure of αC polymers and provide the proper orientation of their reactive residues for efficient cross-linking by factor XIIIa. Molecular modeling of self-association of the N-terminal subdomains confirmed that the hypothesized β-hairpin swapping does not impose any steric hindrance. To "freeze" the conformation of the N-terminal subdomain and prevent the hypothesized β-hairpin swapping, we introduced by site-directed mutagenesis an extra disulfide bond between two β-hairpins of the bovine Aα406-483 fragment corresponding to this subdomain. The experiments performed by circular dichroism revealed that Aα406-483 mutant containing Lys429Cys/Thr463Cys mutations preserved its β-sheet structure. However, in contrast to wild-type Aα406-483, this mutant had lower tendency for oligomerization, and its structure was not stabilized upon oligomerization, in agreement with the above hypothesis. On the basis of the results obtained and our previous findings, we propose a model of fibrin αC polymer structure and molecular mechanism of assembly.

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