Key Points

  • Targeted mutations of amino acid residues involved in FXIII-A subunit interactions affect FXIII-A expression and activity.

  • Eight amino acid residues forming 4 intersubunit interactions were identified that may be essential for FXIII-A2 dimer stability.


Coagulation factor XIII (FXIII) is the main stabilizer of the fibrin clot. It circulates in plasma as a tetramer of two A-subunits and two B-subunits. Under physiological conditions, FXIII-A exists as a dimer (FXIII-A2). The interactions between the FXIII-A-subunits that stabilize the FXIII-A2 dimer are not fully understood. We therefore designed a systematic approach to identify amino acid residues crucial for the expression and stability of FXIII-A2. Based on the available FXIII-A2 crystal structure, we identified 12 amino acid residues forming intersubunit salt bridges and 21 amino acid residues forming hydrogen bonds between the two A-subunits. We chose 10 amino acid residues that form 5 particularly strong interactions, performed site-directed mutagenesis, and expressed the mutants in CHO cells. Disruption of these interactions by single mutation of Lys257, Lys113, Asp343, Glu401, or Asp404 abolished the expression of properly folded, soluble, and functional FXIII-A in CHO cells. On the contrary, mutation of Glu111, Arg100, or Asn112 had no significant effect on FXIII-A expression. Our results suggest that 4 intersubunit interactions (Arg11-Asp343, Lys113-Asp367, Lys257-Glu401, and Arg260-Asp404) are essential for the stability of FXIII-A2. Our findings are supported by reported mutations at Lys257, Arg260, and Asp404 found in patients with congenital FXIII-A deficiency.

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