[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ischaemic stroke is caused by occlusive thrombi in the cerebral vasculature. Although tissue-plasminogen activator (tPA) can be administered as thrombolytic therapy, it has major limitations, which include disruption of the blood-brain barrier and an increased risk of bleeding. Treatments that prevent or limit such deleterious effects could be of major clinical importance. Activated protein C (APC) is a natural anticoagulant that regulates thrombin generation, but also confers endothelial cytoprotective effects and improved endothelial barrier function mediated through its cell signalling properties. In murine models of stroke, although APC can limit the deleterious effects of tPA due to its cell signalling function, its anticoagulant actions can further elevate the risk of bleeding. Thus, APC variants such as APC(5A), APC(Ca-ins) and APC(36-39) with reduced anticoagulant, but normal signalling function may have therapeutic benefit. Human and murine protein C (5A), (Ca-ins) and (36-39) variants were expressed and characterised. All protein C variants were secreted normally, but 5-20% of the protein C (Ca-ins) variants were secreted as disulphide-linked dimers. Thrombin generation assays suggested reductions in anticoagulant function of 50- to 57-fold for APC(36-39), 22- to 27-fold for APC(Ca-ins) and 14- to 17-fold for APC(5A). Interestingly, whereas human wt APC, APC(36-39) and APC(Ca-ins) were inhibited similarly by protein C inhibitor (t½ - 33 to 39 mins), APC(5A) was inactivated ~9-fold faster (t½ - 4 mins). Using the murine middle cerebral artery occlusion ischaemia/repurfusion injury model, in combination with tPA, APC(36-39), which cannot be enhanced by its cofactor protein S, significantly improved neurological scores, reduced cerebral infarct area by ~50% and reduced oedema ratio. APC(36-39) also significantly reduced bleeding in the brain induced by administration of tPA, whereas wt APC did not. If our data can be extrapolated to clinical settings, then APC(36-39) could represent a feasible adjunctive therapy for ischaemic stroke.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protein S has an important anticoagulant function by acting as a cofactor for activated protein C (APC). We recently reported that the EGF1 domain residue Asp95 is critical for APC cofactor function. In the present study, we examined whether additional interaction sites within the Gla domain of protein S might contribute to its APC cofactor function. We examined 4 residues, composing the previously reported "Face1" (N33S/P35T/E36A/Y39V) variant, as single point substitutions. Of these protein S variants, protein S E36A was found to be almost completely inactive using calibrated automated thrombography. In factor Va inactivation assays, protein S E36A had 89% reduced cofactor activity compared with wild-type protein S and was almost completely inactive in factor VIIIa inactivation; phospholipid binding was, however, normal. Glu36 lies outside the ω-loop that mediates Ca(2+)-dependent phospholipid binding. Using mass spectrometry, it was nevertheless confirmed that Glu36 is γ-carboxylated. Our finding that Gla36 is important for APC cofactor function, but not for phospholipid binding, defines a novel function (other than Ca(2+) coordination/phospholipid binding) for a Gla residue in vitamin K-dependent proteins. It also suggests that residues within the Gla and EGF1 domains of protein S act cooperatively for its APC cofactor function.