Molecular mechanisms of platelet adhesion and activation

Robert K. Andrews, José A. Lopez, Michael C. Berndt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

170 Citations (Scopus)


When a blood vessel is injured, control of bleeding starts with the rapid adhesion of circulating platelets to the site of damage. Within seconds, the adhered platelets are activated, secrete the contents of storage organelles, spread out over the damaged area and recruit more platelets to the developing thrombus. However, if this same process occurs in a diseased, sclerotic or occluded vessel, the resulting platelet thrombus may break away and block the coronary artery, causing a heart attack, or restrict blood supply to the brain, causing a stroke. The glycoprotein (GP) Ib-IX-V complex, a member of the leucine-rich protein family, is a constitute platelet membrane receptor for von Willebrand Factor (vWF), a multimeric adhesive glycoprotein found in the matrix underlying the endothelial cell lining of the blood vessel wall and in the plasma. Binding of vWF to the GP Ib-IX-V complex regulates adhesion of platelets to the subendothelium at high shear flow, and initiates signal transduction leading to platelet activation. The GP Ib-IX-V complex also constitutes a binding site for α-thrombin, an interaction that facilitates thrombin-dependent platelet activation. This review will focus on recent detailed analysis of the GP Ib-IX-V complex and vWF that has identified discrete amino acid sequences that mediate their interaction. An anionic/sulfated tyrosine sequence of the GP Ib α-chain that is critical for binding of the GP Ib-IX-V complex to both vWF and α-thrombin is analogous to sulfated anionic amino acid sequences mediating interactions of other adhesive proteins, including P-selectin binding to PSGL-1 and Factor VIII binding to vWF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-105
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • α-Thrombin
  • Botrocetin
  • Glycoprotein Ib-IX-V complex
  • P-selection
  • von Willebrand factor

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