Investigation of the Anticoagulant Mechanisms of a Covalent Antithrombin-Heparin Complex
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Recently, we developed a covalent antithrombin-heparin complex (ATH) as a possible treatment for respiratory distress syndrome. ATH reacted rapidly with thrombin and efficiently catalyzed the inhibition of either thrombin or factor Xa by exogenous antithrombin. In order to investigate mechanisms for the conjugate's unusual anticoagulant properties, changes in fluorescence due to covalent linkage or addition of exogenous antithrombin were studied in relation to reaction with thrombin derivatives or factor Xa. The emission spectrum of ATH was similar to that of antithrombin plus heparin mixtures. ATH quickly inhibited thrombin or factor Xa activities, as measured by a fluorogenic substrate. Fluorescein-labeled heparin was displaced from either thrombin or active site blocked thrombin by ATH, indicating that thrombin must bind to the conjugate's heparin moiety. Interaction of thrombin with ATH's heparin component was confirmed by a slow reaction rate of conjugate with a thrombin mutant that has weak heparin binding. Total intrinsic fluorescence increased when exogenous antithrombin was added to ATH, indicating that the catalytic mechanism may occur through a second inhibitor binding site. Thus, ATH reacts directly with thrombin through a bridge mechanism and probably catalyzes the reaction of thrombin with antithrombin by a second binding sequence on its heparin chain.
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