Most steps in the blood coagulation cascade obligatorily take place on membrane surfaces and are dependent on the exposure of phosphatidylserine (PS). Previous studies from our lab and others have shown that phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) poorly supports clotting reactions by itself, but strongly synergizes with PS to promote several membrane-dependent steps in the blood clotting cascade, although the mechanism for PE-PS synergy has been unclear. We recently put forward a new mechanistic explanation – which we termed the ABC or Anything But Choline hypothesis – for how PS and PE synergize to enhance factor X (fX) activation by the factor VIIa-tissue factor complex (Tavoosi et al., J. Biol. Chem. 286:23247–53, 2011). The membrane contribution to this reaction is dominated by the affinity of fX for the membrane surface; since fX binds to membranes via its gamma-carboxyglutamate-rich (GLA) domain, the ABC hypothesis therefore focuses on the mechanisms by which GLA domains engage the phospholipid bilayer. We identified two main types of GLA domain-phospholipid interactions: a single phospho-L-serine-specific binding site in each GLA domain; and multiple ”phosphate-specific” interactions in which the phosphate groups of non-phosphatidylcholine phospholipids form coordination complexes with the tightly bound calcium ions in GLA domains.
In the current study, we test the ABC hypothesis in the context of the prothrombinase complex – i.e., activation of prothrombin by the membrane-bound complex of fXa and factor Va (fVa). Using a variety of approaches including surface plasmon resonance analyses, we measured the contributions of varying phospholipid compositions to the membrane binding affinities of fXa, fVa and prothrombin, as well as to the enzymatic activity of prothrombinase. Our results suggest that phospholipid synergy in prothrombinase activity differs in certain respects from that observed for the factor VIIa-tissue factor complex. Not only did PS synergize with PE for enhancing the activity of prothrombinase, but phosphatidylglycerol (PG) and phosphatidylacid (PA) also synergized with PE, albeit more weakly than with PS (i.e., significantly higher levels of PG or PA in the presence of PE were required to achieve prothrombinase activities comparable to mixtures of PS and PE). In contrast, PE failed to synergize with either PG or PA to support fX activation by the factor VIIa-tissue factor complex. These differences primarily arise from differential membrane binding of the substrates for these two complexes (fX for factor VIIa-tissue factor and prothrombin for prothrombinase). The data suggest that the phospho-L-serine-specific binding site in the GLA domain of prothrombin may not be as stringent as that of fX, as high levels of PG or PA can substitute for PS in membrane binding of prothrombin but not for fX. This study provides further insights into the membrane's role in regulating blood clotting reactions, specifically the binding interactions between GLA domains and membrane surfaces.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.