Polyphosphate, Zn2+ and high molecular weight kininogen modulate individual reactions of the contact pathway of blood clotting

J Thromb Haemost. 2019 Dec;17(12):2131-2140. doi: 10.1111/jth.14612. Epub 2019 Sep 18.


Background: Inorganic polyphosphate modulates the contact pathway of blood clotting, which is implicated in thrombosis and inflammation. Polyphosphate polymer lengths are highly variable, with shorter polymers (approximately 60-100 phosphates) secreted from human platelets, and longer polymers (up to thousands of phosphates) in microbes. We previously reported that optimal triggering of clotting via the contact pathway requires very long polyphosphates, although the impact of shorter polyphosphate polymers on individual proteolytic reactions of the contact pathway was not interrogated.

Objectives and methods: We conducted in vitro measurements of enzyme kinetics to investigate the ability of varying polyphosphate sizes, together with high molecular weight kininogen and Zn2+ , to mediate four individual proteolytic reactions of the contact pathway: factor XII autoactivation, factor XII activation by kallikrein, prekallikrein activation by factor XIIa, and prekallikrein autoactivation.

Results: The individual contact pathway reactions were differentially dependent on polyphosphate length. Very long-chain polyphosphate was required to support factor XII autoactivation, whereas platelet-size polyphosphate significantly accelerated the activation of factor XII by kallikrein, and the activation of prekallikrein by factor XIIa. Intriguingly, polyphosphate did not support prekallikrein autoactivation. We also report that high molecular weight kininogen was required only when kallikrein was the enzyme (ie, FXII activation by kallikrein), whereas Zn2+ was required only when FXII was the substrate (ie, FXII activation by either kallikrein or FXIIa). Activation of prekallikrein by FXIIa required neither Zn2+ nor high molecular weight kininogen.

Conclusions: Platelet polyphosphate and Zn2+ can promote subsets of the reactions of the contact pathway, with implications for a variety of disease states.

Keywords: blood coagulation factors; polyphosphates; prekallikrein; thrombosis; zinc.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Coagulation*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Factor Xa / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Kininogen, High-Molecular-Weight / blood*
  • Kininogen, High-Molecular-Weight / chemistry
  • Molecular Weight
  • Polyphosphates / blood*
  • Polyphosphates / chemistry
  • Proteolysis
  • Zinc / blood*


  • Kininogen, High-Molecular-Weight
  • Polyphosphates
  • Factor Xa
  • Zinc