Human factor XI (FXI) is a blood coagulation factor participating in the early phase of the intrinsic pathway of blood coagulation. It circulates in blood as a glycoprotein composed of two identical chains held together by a single disulfide bond between the fourth apple domains. FXI has been expressed in baby hamster kidney (BHK) cells, where it was synthesized as a single-chain molecule that was converted to the dimer before secretion. The recombinant protein was fully active in a clotting assay, indicating that it interacted readily with other components of the coagulation cascade. A mutant FXI in which Phe283 was converted to Leu (Phe283Leu) was also expressed in BHK cells. This amino acid change occurs in the fourth apple domain of FXI and corresponds to the type III deficiency in Ashkenazi Jews. The mutant protein was secreted at reduced levels (about 8%) compared with normal FXI. This was due to a defect in the dimerization of the molecule rather than a decrease in the transcription of type III messenger RNA. Once secreted, however, the mutant protein consisted of a dimer with full biologic activity. The in vitro expression of FXI indicated that the impaired dimerization and secretion of the Phe283Leu mutant can account for the defect found in patients who are homozygous for the type III FXI deficiency.

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