Factor VII (FVII) is a zymogen for a vitamin K-dependent serine protease essential for the initiation of blood coagulation. It is synthesized primarily in the liver and circulates in plasma at a concentration of approximately 0.5 microg/ml (10 nmol/L). The FVII gene (F7) is located on chromosome 13 (13q34), consists of 9 exons, and spans approximately 12kb. It encodes a mature protein of 406 amino acids, which has an N-terminal domain (Gla) post-translationally modified by gamma-carboxylation of glutamic acid residues, two domains with homology to epidermal growth factor (EGF1 and 2), and a C-terminal serine protease domain. The single chain zymogen is activated by proteolytic cleavage at Arg152-Ile153. There are 238 individuals described in the world literature with mutations in their F7 genes (FVII mutation database; europium.csc. mrc.ac.uk). Complete absence of FVII activity in plasma is usually incompatible with life, and individuals die shortly after birth due to severe hemorrhage. The majority of individuals with mutations in their F7 gene(s), however, are either asymptomatic or the clinical phenotype is unknown. In general, a severe bleeding phenotype is only observed in individuals homozygous for a mutation in their F7 genes with FVII activities (FVII:C) below 2% of normal, however, a considerable proportion of individuals with a mild-moderate bleeding phenotype have similar FVII:C by in vitro assay. The failure of in vitro tests to differentiate between these groups may be due to lack of sensitivity in the assays to the very low amounts of FVII:C, which are sufficient to initiate coagulation in vivo. A number of polymorphisms have been identified in the F7 gene and some have been shown to influence plasma FVII antigen levels.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.