Background: Thrombotic vascular occlusion resulting in infarction occurs during hyperacute rejection of allografts transplanted into sensitized patients and remains a major problem in experimental xenotransplantation. A similar process is also found in disorders of diverse etiology including atherosclerosis, vasculitis, and disseminated intravascular coagulation.
Methods: We have previously constructed two membrane-tethered anticoagulant fusion proteins based on human tissue factor pathway inhibitor and the leech anticoagulant hirudin and demonstrated their functional efficacy in vitro. These constructs have now been modified by the addition of a P-selectin sequence to the cytoplasmic tail to localize them in Weibel-Palade bodies. They have been transfected into Weibel-Palade body-positive endothelial cells isolated from the inferior vena cava of normal pigs.
Results: In resting endothelial cells, fusion protein expression colocalized with P-selectin and was confined to Weibel-Palade bodies. These cells had a procoagulant phenotype in recalcified human plasma. However, after activation with phorbol ester the anticoagulant proteins were rapidly relocated to the cell surface where they specifically inhibited the clotting of human plasma.
Conclusions: Novel anticoagulant molecules may prove useful therapeutic agents for gene therapy in thrombotic disease and postangioplasty or for transgenic expression in animals whose organs may be used for clinical xenotransplantation. Expression in vascular endothelial cells may be regulated by inclusion of P-selectin cytoplasmic sequence, to restrict cell surface expression to activated endothelium.