Structure of the antithrombin binding site in heparin

U. Lindahl, G. Backstrom, M. Hook, L. Thunberg, L. A. Fransson, A. Linker

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Heparin preparations from pig intestinal mucosa and from bovine lung were separated by chromatography on antithrombin-Sepharose into a high-affinity fraction (with high anticoagulant activity) and low-affinity fraction (with low anticoagulant activity). Antithrombin-binding heparin fragments (12-16 monosaccharide units) were prepared, either by digesting a high-affinity heparin-antithrombin complex with bacterial heparinase or by partial deaminative cleavage of the unfractionated polysaccharide with nitrous acid followed by affinity chromatography on immobilized antithrombin. Compositional analysis based on separation and identification of deamination products reduced with sodium boro [3H]hydride showed that nonsulfated L-iduronic acid occurred in larger amounts in high-affinity heparin than in low-affinity heparin; furthermore, this component was concentrated in the antithrombin-binding regions of the high-affinity heparin molecules, amounting to approximately one residue per binding site. It is suggested that nonsulfated L-iduronic acid is essential for the anticoagulant activity of heparin. The location of the non-sulfated uronic acid in the antithrombin-binding site was determined by periodate oxidation of antithrombin-binding fragments containing a terminal 2,5-anhydro-D-[1-3H]mannitol unit. Tentative structures for antithrombin-binding sequences in heparin are proposed, including some structural variants believed to be compatible with, but not required for, activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3198-3202
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1979

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