The kinetics of inhibition of human alpha-thrombin and coagulation Factor Xa by antithrombin III were examined under pseudo-first-order reaction conditions as a function of the concentration of heparan sulphate with high affinity for antithrombin III. The maximum observed second-order rate constant was, for the antithrombin III-thrombin reaction, 1.2 x 10(9) M-1.min-1 compared with 2.4 x 10(9) M-1.min-1 in the presence of high-affinity heparin. However, the maximum rate was catalysed by much higher concentrations of heparan sulphate (1.3 microM) than of heparin (0.025 microM). Differences were also observed in the maximal acceleration of the antithrombin III-Factor Xa interaction: 1.2 x 10(9) M-1.min-1 at 0.2 microM-heparin sulphate compared with 2.2 x 10(9) M-1.min-1 at 0.04 microM-heparin. The differences in properties of heparan sulphate and heparin were analysed by using the random bi-reactant model of heparin action [Griffith (1983) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 80, 5460-5464]. It was observed that the apparent binding affinity for thrombin was higher for heparan sulphate (180 nM) than for heparin (14 nM). The rate constant for transformation of the antithrombin III-Factor Xa complex into irreversible product differed between heparan sulphate (96 min-1) and heparin (429 min-1). These properties of the high-affinity heparan sulphate may be of importance in consideration of a putative role in the control of intravascular haemostasis.

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