The human integrin glycoprotein (GP)IIb/IIIa plays a central role in haemostasis as an inducible receptor for fibrinogen and other RGD-containing adhesive proteins at the platelet plasma membrane. Expression of the fibrinogen receptor on platelet activation involves conformational changes in the quaternary structure of GPIIb/IIIa. Little is known, however, about the nature of this conformational transition. Given that isolated GPIIb/IIIa contains a mixture of RGD-binding and non-RGD-binding heterodimers, we used limited proteolysis as a tool for investigating the structural differences between the two conformers. Comparison of their fragmentation patterns shows that, whereas in the non-RGD-binding form of GPIIb/IIIa the N-terminal half of the heavy chain of GPIIb (GPIIbH) and the central region of GPIIIa are cleaved by endoproteinase Arg-C, these domains associate tightly with one another in the RGD-binding GPIIb/IIIa and are thus protected from proteolysis. In addition, the C-terminal half of GPIIb becomes more susceptible to degradation in the non-RGD-binding GPIIb/IIIa conformer. Our interpretation, in the context of available structural and functional data, is that a major relative reorientation of the GPIIbH and GPIIIa extracellular domains takes place along the subunit interface during the conformational transition of the platelet integrin.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.