Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 19, 2008

How Na+ activates thrombin – a review of the functional and structural data

James A. Huntington
From the journal


Thrombin is the ultimate coagulation factor; it is the final protease generated in the blood coagulation cascade and is the effector of clot formation. Regulation of thrombin activity is thus of great relevance to determining the correct haemostatic balance, with dysregulation leading to bleeding or thrombosis. One of the most enigmatic and controversial regulators of thrombin activity is the monovalent cation Na+. When bound to Na+, thrombin adopts a ‘fast’ conformation which cleaves all procoagulant substrates more rapidly, and when free of Na+, thrombin reverts to a ‘slow’ state which preferentially activates the protein C anticoagulant pathway. Thus, Na+-binding allosterically modulates the activity of thrombin and helps determine the haemostatic balance. Over the last 30 years, there has been much research investigating the structural basis of thrombin allostery. Biochemical and mutagenesis studies established which regions and residues are involved in the slow→fast conformational change, and recently several crystal structures of the putative slow form have been solved. In this article, the biochemical and crystallographic data are reviewed to see if we are any closer to understanding the conformational basis of the Na+ activation of thrombin.

Published Online: 2008-08-19
Published in Print: 2008-08-01

©2008 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York