Background: The endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR)-dependent cleavage of protease activated receptor 1 (PAR-1) by either activated protein C (APC) or thrombin in lipid rafts initiates protective signaling responses in endothelial cells.
Objectives: To investigate the mechanism by which APC and thrombin interact with and cleave PAR-1 in lipid rafts.
Methods: We constructed two types of PAR-1 cleavage reporter constructs in which a secreted alkaline phosphatase (ALP) was fused to the extracellular domain of PAR-1. The first construct has a transmembrane domain capable of uniformly anchoring the fusion protein to the membrane surface, while the second construct has the recognition sequence for targeting the fusion protein to lipid rafts/caveolae in transfected cells.
Results: Both APC and the Gla-domainless (GD)-APC cleaved the PAR-1 exodomain with similar efficiency in HUVECs transfected with the first construct. Unlike APC, GD-APC did not cleave PAR-1 in cells transfected with the second construct; however, prior treatment of cells with S195A mutants of either protein C or thrombin led to the GD-APC cleavage of PAR-1 with a comparable or higher catalytic efficiency. The same results were obtained if the cellular signaling properties of APC and GD-APC were monitored in the TNF-alpha-induced endothelial cell apoptosis and permeability assays.
Conclusions: The lipid raft localization renders the scissile bond of the PAR-1 exodomain unavailable for interaction with coagulation proteases. The binding of either the Gla-domain of protein C to EPCR or exosite-1 of thrombin to the C-terminal hirudin-like sequence of PAR-1 changes the membrane localization and/or the conformation of the PAR-1 exodomain to facilitate its recognition and subsequent cleavage by these proteases.