The binding of plasma factor XIII to fibrinogen or fibrin that has been chemically or enzymatically induced to polymerize was studied. Factor XIII binding was assayed using a 3H-putrescine incorporation assay and an 125I-plasma factor XIII binding assay. More than 80% of the native and radiolabeled plasma factor XIII was bound to fibrin I formed by reptilase in EDTA, citrate, or heparin anticoagulated plasma. Plasma factor XIII and 125I-factor XIII was bound (89.6% to 92.5%) to fibrin II formed by thrombin in either citrate or EDTA anticoagulated plasma. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) of 125I-plasma factor XIII bound to fibrin I or fibrin II formed by reptilase or thrombin in the presence of EDTA demonstrated the b2- subunit remained bound to the a-chains or thrombin-cleaved a-chains. In the presence of calcium chloride and thrombin, the b2-subunit dissociated and factor XIIIa was bound. Protamine sulfate caused fibrinogen polymerization in the absence of divalent cations and reduced both plasma factor XIII and immunologic fibrinogen levels. Fibrinogen polymerized by protamine sulfate bound plasma factor XIII and the a2-subunit of 125I-platelet factor XIII. Plasma factor XIII was also bound to sonicated non-cross-linked fibrin II in either normal plasma or afibrinogenemic plasma. Plasma levels of several coagulation proteins were unchanged after the addition of reptilase, protamine sulfate, or sonicated fibrin to plasma. These results demonstrate that a specific binding site for the a2-subunit of plasma factor XIII is present on polymerized fibrinogen, fibrin I, and fibrin II. Furthermore, the presence of divalent cations, thrombin-cleavage of plasma factor XIII, and release of fibrinopeptides A or B are not required for plasma factor XIII binding to polymerized fibrinogen and fibrin.

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