Temperature-dependence of Weibel-Palade body exocytosis and cell surface dispersal of von Willebrand factor and its propolypeptide

PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e27314. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027314. Epub 2011 Nov 11.


Background: Weibel-Palade bodies (WPB) are endothelial cell (EC) specific secretory organelles containing Von Willebrand factor (VWF). The temperature-dependence of Ca(2+)-driven WPB exocytosis is not known, although indirect evidence suggests that WPB exocytosis may occur at very low temperatures. Here we quantitatively analyse the temperature-dependence of Ca(2+)-driven WPB exocytosis and release of secreted VWF from the cell surface of ECs using fluorescence microscopy of cultured human ECs containing fluorescent WPBs.

Principal findings: Ca(2+)-driven WPB exocytosis occurred at all temperatures studied (7-37°C). The kinetics and extent of WPB exocytosis were strongly temperature-dependent: Delays in exocytosis increased from 0.92 s at 37°C to 134.2 s at 7°C, the maximum rate of WPB fusion decreased from 10.0±2.2 s(-1) (37°C) to 0.80±0.14 s(-1) (7°C) and the fractional extent of degranulation of WPBs in each cell from 67±3% (37°C) to 3.6±1.3% (7°C). A discrepancy was found between the reduction in Ca(2+)-driven VWF secretion and WPB exocytosis at reduced temperature; at 17°C VWF secretion was reduced by 95% but WPB exocytosis by 75-80%. This discrepancy arises because VWF dispersal from sites of WPB exocytosis is largely prevented at low temperature. In contrast VWF-propolypeptide (proregion) dispersal from WPBs, although slowed, was complete within 60-120 s. Novel antibodies to the cleaved and processed proregion were characterised and used to show that secreted proregion more accurately reports the secretion of WPBs at sub-physiological temperatures than assay of VWF itself.

Conclusions: We report the first quantitative analysis of the temperature-dependence of WPB exocytosis. We provide evidence; by comparison of biochemical data for VWF or proregion secretion with direct analysis of WPB exocytosis at reduced temperature, that proregion is a more reliable marker for WPB exocytosis at reduced temperature, where VWF-EC adhesion is increased.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Exocytosis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Protein Precursors / metabolism*
  • Temperature*
  • Weibel-Palade Bodies / metabolism*
  • von Willebrand Factor / metabolism*


  • Protein Precursors
  • von Willebrand Factor
  • von Willebrand factor propolypeptide