Activation of the von Willebrand Factor (vWF) A1 domain is a critical factor in regulating the interaction of vWF with its platelet membrane receptor, the glycoprotein (GP) Ib-IX-V complex. This activation controls vWF-dependent platelet adhesion at high shear. The vWF-GP Ib-IX-V interaction is induced in vivo by exposure of platelet-rich plasma to high shear force, or by association of vWF with one or more unidentified components of the subendothelial matrix. In vitro, soluble vWF is activated to bind to platelets by nonphysiological modulators, such as the bacterial glycopeptide, ristocetin, or the snake venom protein, botrocetin, or by removal of negatively-charged sialic acid residues. Analysis of vWF modulators and the very marked charge asymmetry of amine acid sequences within the A1 domain has led to an electrostatic model for vWF modulation. Endothelial membrane/matrix and detergent-soluble fractions of human placenta were screened for the ability to bind vWF by electrophoresis of extracts on SDS-polyacrylamide gels, electrotransferring to nitrocellulose and probing with fluid-phase 125I-labeled vWF or a 39/34-kDa vWF fragment (Leu-480-Gly-718) that encompasses the A1 domain. In the course of these studies, it was found that both vWF and the 39/34-kDa vWF fragment bound strongly to historic. Purified soluble histone also bound vWF since, like ristocetin, it induced vWF flocculation. Histone binding to vWF did not activate or inhibit vWF binding to platelets. While the vWF-histone interaction has no conceivable physiological role, it suggests that binding to the A1 domain of vWF alone is insufficient to modulate vWF adhesive activity. This implies that specific interactions of the vWF A1 domain with either ristocetin or botrocetin are required for GP Ib-IX-V recognition to occur.
- von Willebrand Factor