Fluid Shear Induces Conformation Change in Human Blood Protein von Willebrand Factor in Solution

Indrajeet Singh, Efrosyni Themistou, Lionel Porcar, Sriram Neelamegham

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77 Citations (Scopus)


Many of the physiological functions of von Willebrand Factor (VWF), including its binding interaction with blood platelets, are regulated by the magnitude of applied fluid/hydrodynamic stress. We applied two complementary strategies to study the effect of fluid forces on the solution structure of VWF. First, small-angle neutron scattering was used to measure protein conformation changes in response to laminar shear rates (G) up to 3000/s. Here, purified VWF was sheared in a quartz Couette cell and protein conformation was measured in real time over length scales from 2-140 nm. Second, changes in VWF structure up to 9600/s were quantified by measuring the binding of a fluorescent probe 1,1'-bis(anilino)-4-,4'-bis(naphtalene)-8,8'-disulfonate (bis-ANS) to hydrophobic pockets exposed in the sheared protein. Small angle neutron scattering studies, coupled with quantitative modeling, showed that VWF undergoes structural changes at G < 3000/s. These changes were most prominent at length scales <10 nm (scattering vector (q) range >0.6/nm). A mathematical model attributes these changes to the rearrangement of domain level features within the globular section of the protein. Studies with bis-ANS demonstrated marked increase in bis-ANS binding at G > 2300/s. Together, the data suggest that local rearrangements at the domain level may precede changes at larger-length scales that accompany exposure of protein hydrophobic pockets. Changes in VWF conformation reported here likely regulate protein function in response to fluid shear.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2313-2320
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2009


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