The platelet reactivities of two simple collagen-like synthetic peptides, Gly-Lys-Hyp-(Gly-Pro-Hyp)10-Gly-Lys-Hyp-Gly and Gly-Cys-Hyp-(Gly-Pro-Hyp)10-Gly-Cys-Hyp-Gly, were investigated. Both peptides adopted a stable triple-helical conformation in solution. Following cross-linking, both peptides proved to be highly platelet-aggregatory, more active than collagen fibres, inducing aggregation at concentrations as low as 20 ng/ml. These peptides formed microaggregates in solution, and cross-linking was thought to stabilize these structures, allowing expression of their platelet reactivity at 37 degrees C. Like collagen fibres, the peptides caused platelet secretion and release of arachidonate from platelet membrane lipids as well as activation of integrin alpha IIb beta 3 culminating in aggregation. Monoclonal antibodies directed against the integrin alpha 2 beta 1 failed to prevent aggregation release of arachidonate or platelet adhesion to the peptides. Our results indicate that collagen can activate platelets by a mechanism that is independent of integrin alpha 2 beta 1 and for which collagen tertiary and quaternary structures are sufficient alone for activity without the involvement of highly specific cell-recognition sequences.

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