Fibrin is a filamentous network made in blood to stem bleeding; it forms when fibrinogen is converted into fibrin monomers that self-associate into oligomers and then to polymers. To gather structural insights into fibrin formation and properties, we combined high-resolution atomic force microscopy of fibrin(ogen) oligomers and molecular modeling of crystal structures of fibrin(ogen) and its fragments. We provided a structural basis for the intermolecular flexibility of single-stranded fibrin(ogen) oligomers and identified a hinge region at the D:D inter-monomer junction. Following computational reconstruction of the missing portions, we recreated the full-atomic structure of double-stranded fibrin oligomers that was validated by quantitative comparison with the experimental images. We characterized previously unknown intermolecular binding contacts at the D:D and D:E:D interfaces, which drive oligomerization and reinforce the intra- and inter-strand connections in fibrin besides the known knob-hole bonds. The atomic models provide valuable insights into the submolecular mechanisms of fibrin polymerization.
Keywords: D:D interface; D:E:D interface; MD simulations on a GPU; fibrin; fibrin oligomers; fibrin polymerization; fibrinogen.
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