Type IIA and IIB von Willebrand disease (vWD) result from qualitative abnormalities of von Willebrand factor (vWF) characterized by an absence in plasma of high molecular weight vWF multimers and an abnormal reactivity of vWF towards platelet glycoprotein (GP) Ib, which is decreased in type IIA and increased in type IIB. In this report, we describe the case of a patient having a IIA vWD phenotype associated with an intermittent thrombocytopenia atypical in this subtype but observed in type IIB vWD. The patient plasma vWF showed an absence of high molecular weight and intermediate multimers and had a decreased binding capacity to GPIb. The affinity of botrocetin was normal for plasma vWF from the propositus. Analysis of the propositus vWF gene showed the presence of a substitution Val 551 to Phe of the mature vWF subunit. This mutation is localized within a 509–695 disulphide loop of the vWF that plays an important role in the binding to GPIb and is where most of the molecular defects described so far were associated with type-IIB vWD. We have reproduced the Val 551 Phe substitution onto the vWF cDNA, expressed it in COS-7 cells, and performed structural and functional analysis of the mutant recombinant protein (rvWFPhe 551). The rvWFPhe 551 had a normal multimeric structure and showed the capacity to spontaneously interact with GPIb. Botrocetin had a decreased affinity for rvWFPhe 551. In conclusion, the Val 551 Phe mutation modifies the affinity of vWF for platelet GPIb, as does a type IIB mutation, and may be responsible for the thrombocytopenia of the patient and the clearance of the high molecular weight and intermediate-sized multimers of vWF from the plasma. The study of the rvWFPhe 551 has confirmed the discrepancy between the IIA phenotype and the IIB genotype of the patient.

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