Increasing evidence links blood coagulation proteins with the regulation of acute and chronic inflammatory disease. Of particular interest are vitamin K-dependent proteases, which are generated as a hemostatic response to vascular injury, but can also initiate signal transduction via interactions with vascular receptors. The endothelial cell protein C receptor (EPCR) is a multi-ligand vitamin K-dependent protein receptor for zymogen and activated forms of plasma protein C and factor VII. Although the physiological role of the EPCR-FVII(a) interaction is not well-understood, protein C binding to EPCR facilitates rapid generation of APC in response to excessive thrombin generation, and is a central requirement for the multiple signal-transduction cascades initiated by APC on both vascular endothelial and innate immune cells. Exciting recent studies have highlighted the emerging role of EPCR in modulating the cytoprotective properties of APC in a number of diverse inflammatory disorders. In this review, we describe the structure-function relationships, signal transduction pathways, and cellular interactions that enable EPCR to modulate the anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory properties of its vitamin K-dependent protein ligands, and examine the relevance of EPCR to both thrombotic and inflammation-associated disease.
© Springer Basel AG 2011