Clinical manifestations of arterial and venous thrombosis in a family with protein C deficiency was associated with two mutations in the light chain of protein C: Glu20-->Ala and Val34-->Met. Further studies showed that the mutation Glu20-->Ala which eliminated a gamma- carboxylation site was exclusively responsible for the anticoagulant defect of activated protein C (APC). Membrane-bound human factor Va is inactivated by APC after two sequential cleavages of the heavy chain at Arg506 and Arg306. Human factor Va inactivation by human recombinant APC (rAPC) and a mutant molecule with an alanine instead of a glutamic acid at position 20 (rAPC(gamma 20A)) was investigated in the presence and absence of phospholipid vesicles. During a 2-hour incubation period of the cofactor with either rAPC or rAPC(gamma 20A). In the absence of a membrane surface, factor Va is cleaved quantitatively at Arg506 and retains approximately 60% of its initial cofactor activity. After a 2- hour incubation period with rAPC membrane-bound factor Va has no cofactor activity, whereas in the presence of a membrane surface and rAPC(gamma 20A) factor Va retains 60% of its initial cofactor activity. The completed loss in factor Va cofactor activity upon incubation of the membrane-bound cofactor with phospholipid vesicles and rAPC is associated with cleavages at Arg506 and Arg306, whereas membrane-bound factor Va cleavage at Arg306 by rAPC(gamma 20A) is impaired, resulting in a cofactor that is cleaved at Arg506. Slow cleavage at Arg306 occurs when membrane-bound factor Va is incubated with rAPC(gamma 20A) and only small amounts of fragments of M(r) = 45,000 and 30,000 are noticed. Our data show that the genetic defect which leads to the absence of a gamma-carboxylation site at Glu20 impairs membrane binding of human APC, which in turn is required for cleavage of factor Va at Arg306 and inactivation of the cofactor. The consequence of impaired membrane-dependent cleavage at Arg306 is manifested in vivo by venous and arterial thrombosis.

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