Biosynthesis, processing and secretion of von Willebrand factor: biological implications

Best Pract Res Clin Haematol. 2001 Jun;14(2):241-55. doi: 10.1053/beha.2001.0132.


von Willebrand factor is a multimeric plasma glycoprotein that is required for normal haemostasis. von Willebrand factor is synthesized by endothelial cells and megakaryocytes, and originates from its precursor pro-von Willebrand factor. The endoproteolytic processing of pro-von Willebrand factor results in mature von Willebrand factor and von Willebrand factor propeptide (also known as von Willebrand Ag II). In endothelial cells, the propeptide controls the polymerization and subsequent targeting of von Willebrand factor to the storage vesicles, the so-called Weibel-Palade bodies. Upon stimulation of the endothelial cells, the Weibel-Palade bodies are translocated to the plasma membrane of the cell, and mature von Willebrand factor and its propeptide are co-secreted. After release, these polypeptides have divergent fates and serve different biological functions. Mature von Willebrand factor both controls platelet adhesion and aggregation at sites of vascular injury and acts as a chaperone protein for coagulation factor VIII. The von Willebrand factor propeptide may serve a role in modulating inflammatory processes. This still growing body of information indicates that the biological function of the von Willebrand factor gene product is more diverse than was previously thought.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Hemostasis
  • Humans
  • Megakaryocytes / metabolism
  • Protein Transport
  • von Willebrand Factor / biosynthesis
  • von Willebrand Factor / genetics*
  • von Willebrand Factor / metabolism


  • von Willebrand Factor