Thrombin binding to platelets and their activation in plasma
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The interactions of alpha-thrombin with platelets are critical in haemostasis and arterial thrombosis. This study established methods for characterizing the binding of alpha-thrombin to platelets and some of its consequences in platelet-rich plasma. The binding of alpha-thrombin to platelets and the subsequent platelet activation were quantified by flow cytometry, using affinity purified polyclonal antibodies to human alpha-thrombin and a monoclonal antibody to GMP-140, respectively. Dose-dependent binding of alpha-thrombin to platelets and their activation occurred in parallel, both reaching the maxima for each enzyme concentration within 10s after > or = 1.0 nM alpha-thrombin was added to recalcified PRP containing 1 microM recombinant tick anticoagulant peptide. The tick anticoagulant peptide abrogated prothrombin activation in the platelet-rich plasma. alpha-Thrombin binding to platelets, and their activation, were abrogated by a monoclonal antibody to the hirudin tail-like domain of the seven transmembrane thrombin receptor on platelets. Therefore this receptor represents an important site for alpha-thrombin binding to platelets suspended in plasma. D-Phe-Pro-ArgCH2-alpha-thrombin only bound to platelets when its concentration was > or = 100 nM, and it did so without inhibiting platelet activation by alpha-thrombin. Whereas concentrations of hirudin equimolar to those of alpha-thrombin failed to abrogate alpha-thrombin-mediated activation of platelets, a 10-fold molar excesses of hirudin over alpha-thrombin abrogated alpha-thrombin binding to platelets. The demonstration that > or = 1.0 nM alpha-thrombin can bind to platelets and initiate their activation raises the possibility that the levels of thrombin generated in venous and arterial thrombosis contribute to platelet activation in vivo.
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