Single-molecue study on GPIb-alpha and von Willebrand factor mediated platelet adhesion and signal triggering
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The binding between the 45 kDa N-terminal domain of the a subunit of the GPIb-IX-V complex (GPIbαN) on the platelet membrane and the A1 domain of von Willebrand factor (VWF-A1), a multimeric protein circulating in the plasma, plays a key role in platelet adhesion and thrombus initiation at sites of cut-injury and atherosclerotic plaque rupture where blood vessels are subjected to high haemodynamic shear. A fundamental yet unresolved issue is how haemodynamic force upregulates this interaction (binding kinetics) and how a mechanical stimulus is translated into a biochemical signal (mechanotransduction). In order to address above issues, we setup a new biomembrane force probe (BFP) with the drifting reduction, temperature control and concurrent fluorescence imaging. My research findings are summarized into three aims: 1. VWF regions surrounding A1 hinder A1-GPIbα interaction at zero force, which is relieved by increasing force that stabilizes the interaction, giving rise to a VWF-GPIbα catch bond. 2. Three transport-related physical factors: receptor-ligand separation distance, Brownian motion and diffusivity govern the VWF-GPIbα association. 3. Mechanical force and structural variation regulate platelet signaling via the engagement duration of GPIbα mechanosensor. My thesis study advances our understanding of the biophysical and structural basis of how the VWF activation, its interaction with GPIbα and signal transduction are regulated by force when platelets' haemostatic functions are most needed.