The α-Helix to β-Sheet Transition in Stretched and Compressed Hydrated Fibrin Clots.
ABSTRACT Fibrin is a protein polymer that forms the viscoelastic scaffold of blood clots and thrombi. Despite the critical importance of fibrin deformability for outcomes of bleeding and thrombosis, the structural origins of the clot's elasticity and plasticity remain largely unknown. However, there is substantial evidence that unfolding of fibrin is an important part of the mechanism. We used Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy to reveal force-induced changes in the secondary structure of hydrated fibrin clots made of human blood plasma in vitro. When extended or compressed, fibrin showed a shift of absorbance intensity mainly in the amide I band (1600-1700 cm(-1)) as well as in the amide II and III bands, indicating an increase of the β-sheets and a corresponding reduction of the α-helices. The structural conversions correlated directly with the strain or pressure and were partially reversible at the conditions applied. The additional absorbance observed at 1612-1624 cm(-1) was characteristic of the nascent interchain β-sheets, consistent with protein aggregation and fiber bundling during clot deformation observed using scanning electron microscopy. We conclude that under extension and/or compression an α-helix to β-sheet conversion of the coiled-coils occurs in the fibrin clot as a part of forced protein unfolding.
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ABSTRACT: We characterized the α-to-β transition in α-helical coiled-coil connectors of the human fibrin(ogen) molecule using biomolecular simulations of their forced elongation and theoretical modeling. The force (F)-extension (X) profiles show three distinct regimes: (1) the elastic regime, in which the coiled coils act as entropic springs (F < 100-125 pN; X < 7-8 nm); (2) the constant-force plastic regime, characterized by a force-plateau (F ≈ 150 pN; X ≈ 10-35 nm); and (3) the nonlinear regime (F > 175-200 pN; X > 40-50 nm). In the plastic regime, the three-stranded α-helices undergo a noncooperative phase transition to form parallel three-stranded β-sheets. The critical extension of the α-helices is 0.25 nm, and the energy difference between the α-helices and β-sheets is 4.9 kcal/mol per helical pitch. The soft α-to-β phase transition in coiled coils might be a universal mechanism underlying mechanical properties of filamentous α-helical proteins.Journal of the American Chemical Society 09/2012; 134(50). DOI:10.1021/ja3076428 · 11.44 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Fibrin fibers form the structural scaffold of blood clots. Thus, their mechanical properties are of central importance to understanding hemostasis and thrombotic disease. Recent studies have revealed that fibrin fibers are elastomeric despite their high degree of molecular ordering. These results have inspired a variety of molecular models for fibrin's elasticity, ranging from reversible protein unfolding to rubber-like elasticity. An important property that has not been explored is the timescale of elastic recoil, a parameter that is critical for fibrin's mechanical function and places a temporal constraint on molecular models of fiber elasticity. Using high-frame-rate imaging and atomic force microscopy-based nanomanipulation, we measured the recoil dynamics of individual fibrin fibers and found that the recoil was orders of magnitude faster than anticipated from models involving protein refolding. We also performed steered discrete molecular-dynamics simulations to investigate the molecular origins of the observed recoil. Our results point to the unstructured αC regions of the otherwise structured fibrin molecule as being responsible for the elastic recoil of the fibers.Biophysical Journal 06/2013; 104(12):2671-80. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2013.04.052 · 3.83 Impact Factor
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2013; 110(30). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1310351110 · 9.81 Impact Factor