Polyphosphate and RNA Differentially Modulate the Contact Pathway of Blood Clotting

J Biol Chem. 2017 Feb 3;292(5):1808-1814. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M116.754325. Epub 2016 Dec 22.


The contact pathway of the plasma clotting cascade is dispensable for normal hemostasis, but contributes to thrombosis and serves as a bridge between inflammation and coagulation. This pathway is triggered upon exposure of plasma to certain anionic polymers and artificial surfaces. Recently, extracellular nucleic acids and inorganic polyphosphate (polyP) have been implicated as being important (patho)physiologically relevant activators of this pathway. However, mechanistic details regarding how nucleic acids or polyP modulate the individual reactions of the contact pathway have been lacking. In this study, we investigate the ability of RNA homopolymers and polyP to bind the primary constituents of the contact pathway: factor XIa, factor XIIa, and plasma kallikrein, in the presence and absence of high molecular weight kininogen (HK), an important cofactor in this pathway. We examine seven proteolytic activation reactions within the contact pathway and report that polyP greatly enhances the rate of all seven, while RNA is effective in supporting only a subset of these reactions. HK both enhances and suppresses these proteolytic activation reactions, depending on the specific reaction evaluated. Overall, we find that polyP is a potent mediator of contact pathway activation reactions in general, that RNA secondary structure may be important to its procoagulant activity, and that nucleic acids versus polyP may differentially modulate specific enzyme activation events within the contact pathway.

Keywords: RNA; coagulation factor; hemostasis; nucleic acid; thrombosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Blood Coagulation / physiology*
  • Blood Coagulation Factors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Polyphosphates / metabolism*
  • Proteolysis*
  • RNA / metabolism*


  • Blood Coagulation Factors
  • Polyphosphates
  • RNA