Investigation of the heparin-thrombin interaction by dynamic force spectroscopy

Wang C, Jin Y, Desai UR, Yadavalli VK. Investigation of the heparin-thrombin interaction by dynamic force spectroscopy. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015 Jun;1850(6):1099-106. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2015.01.016. PMID: 25647100 PMCID: PMC4398634

The interaction between heparin and thrombin is a vital step in the blood (anti)coagulation process. Unraveling the molecular basis of the interactions is therefore extremely important in understanding the mechanisms of this complex biological process.
In this study, we use a combination of an efficient thiolation chemistry of heparin, a self-assembled monolayer-based single molecule platform, and a dynamic force spectroscopy to provide new insights into the heparin-thrombin interaction from an energy viewpoint at the molecular scale.
Well-separated single molecules of heparin covalently attached to mixed self-assembled monolayers are demonstrated, whereby interaction forces with thrombin can be measured via atomic force microscopy-based spectroscopy. Further these interactions are studied at different loading rates and salt concentrations to directly obtain kinetic parameters.
An increase in the loading rate shows a higher interaction force between the heparin and thrombin, which can be directly linked to the kinetic dissociation rate constant (koff). The stability of the heparin/thrombin complex decreased with increasing NaCl concentration such that the off-rate was found to be driven primarily by non-ionic forces.
These results contribute to understanding the role of specific and nonspecific forces that drive heparin-thrombin interactions under applied force or flow conditions.

KEYWORDS: Atomic force microscopy; Force spectroscopy; Heparin; Self-assembled monolayers; Thrombin