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Thrombin regulates tissue factor and thrombomodulin mRNA levels and activities in human saphenous vein endothelial cells by distinct mechanisms.

The effects of thrombin, D-phenylalanyl-L-propyl-L-arginine chloromethyl ketone (PPACK)-inhibited thrombin, and thrombin receptor agonist peptide, SFLLRNPNDKYEPF (SFLL, a portion of the receptor unmasked after thrombin cleavage), on the expression of tissue factor (TF) and thrombomodulin by human saphenous vein endothelial cells (HSVECs) in culture were studied. Unstimulated cells contained very low amounts of TF mRNA as measured by the reverse transcriptase-PCR method. Thrombin treatment increased TF mRNA to 8.0 +/- 1.9 (n = 3) times the control level. The increase was detectable within 2 h and declined to near basal level by 6 h. Induction of TF mRNA was not blocked by cycloheximide, treatment with cycloheximide alone also increased TF mRNA levels, and thrombin in combination with cycloheximide further enhanced the accumulation of TF mRNA. Thrombin caused a 14.5 +/- 1.5-fold (n = 5) increase in TF activity on the surface of HSVECs and a 20.5 +/- 1.4-fold (mean +/- S.D., n = 2) increase in the extracellular matrix. The thrombin-induced effects on TF synthesis could be fully reproduced by the thrombin receptor agonist peptide, SFLL, whereas PPACK-inhibited thrombin did not influence TF expression. Thrombin increased thrombomodulin mRNA to 190 +/- 39% (n = 5) of control levels, whereas PPACK-inhibited thrombin or SFLL did not influence thrombomodulin mRNA levels. In contrast, surface-bound thrombomodulin cofactor activity and thrombomodulin antigen in the cell lysates did not change over 24 h of incubation with thrombin. However, thrombin caused a 2-fold increase in thrombomodulin antigen released into the conditioned medium, and immunoelectron microscopy of HSVECs also demonstrated the presence of thrombomodulin vesicles close to the luminal cell surface in thrombin-treated cultures. The Western blot pattern thrombomodulin in the conditioned medium of untreated and thrombin-treated cells was found to be similar, and soluble thrombomodulin occurred mainly as fragments of the cell-associated form. We conclude that the transcriptional control by thrombin causes an increase in both TF and thrombomodulin mRNA. The increase in TF mRNA levels is also paralleled by an increase in surface expression, is dependent on the proteolytic activity of thrombin, and is mediated by the same receptor as the recently cloned thrombin receptor in platelets. Up-regulation of thrombomodulin mRNA levels by thrombin is distinct from this pathway and is associated with unchanged expression on the cell surface.

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