Evidence for Thrombin Enhancement of Fibrin Polymerization that is Independent of its Catalytic Activity

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Translational Research, The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine

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Inhibition of thrombin proteolysis of fibrinogen with d-phenylalanyl-l-propyl-l-arginine chloromethyl ketone (PPACK) results in irreversible inactivation of the thrombin catalytic site, but the PPACK-inhibited thrombin, through its exosite, retains its ability to bind to fibrinogen or fibrin. Hirudin inactivates thrombin at the catalytic site and also inhibits thrombin exosite binding to fibrin or fibrinogen. PPACK or hirudin was added to a clotting mixture of fibrinogen and active thrombin (enzyme-to-substrate ratio = 1:400 at ionic strength of 0.14; 1:800 at ionic strength of 0.09) before the onset of gelation. Subsequent fibrin assembly was evaluated by turbidity measurements at 350 nm and by determining the fibrin and fibrinogen content of the clots that ultimately formed. Polymerization rates and the fibrin-fibrinogen content of the clots that formed were greater in the PPACK-inhibited system than in the hirudin-inhibited system, and the effect was amplified at the lower ionic strength. PPACK-thrombin also promoted the polymerization of native or prepared mixtures of fibrin and fibrinogen. The results suggest that in addition to its well-recognized role in the proteolytic conversion of fibrinogen to fibrin, thrombin functions through exosite binding to fibrin as a cofactor in fibrin polymerization by accelerating fibrin clot assembly.


Translational Research, The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, Vol. 117, No. 3 (March 1, 1991): 209-217. Publisher link.