Von Willebrand factor (VWF), a large multimeric blood protein, senses changes in shear stress during bleeding and responds by binding platelets to plug ruptures in the vessel wall. Molecular mechanisms underlying this dynamic process are difficult to uncover using standard approaches due to the challenge of applying mechanical forces while monitoring structure and activity. By combining single-molecule fluorescence imaging with high-pressure, rapidly switching microfluidics, we reveal the key role of electrostatic steering in accelerating the binding between flow-activated VWF and GPIbα, and in rapidly immobilizing platelets under flow. We measure the elongation and tension-dependent activation of individual VWF multimers under a range of ionic strengths and pH levels, and find that the association rate is enhanced by 4 orders of magnitude by electrostatic steering. Under supraphysiologic salt concentrations, strong electrostatic screening dramatically decreases platelet binding to VWF in flow, revealing the critical role of electrostatic attraction in VWF-platelet binding during bleeding.
D assemblies comprise half of von Willebrand factor yet are of unknown structure. D1 and D2 in the prodomain and D'D3 in mature VWF at Golgi pH form helical VWF tubules in Weibel Palade bodies and template dimerization of D3 through disulfides to form ultralong VWF concatemers. D'D3 forms the binding site for factor VIII. The crystal structure of monomeric D'D3 with cysteine residues required for dimerization mutated to alanine was determined at endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-like pH. The smaller C8-3, TIL3 and E3 modules pack through specific interfaces as they wind around the larger, N-terminal, Ca-binding VWD3 module to form a wedge shape. D' with its TIL' and E' modules projects away from D3. The two mutated cysteines implicated in D3 dimerization are buried, providing a mechanism for protecting them against premature disulfide linkage in the ER where intrachain disulfide linkages are formed. D3 dimerization requires co-association with D1 and D2, Ca, and Golgi-like acidic pH. Associated structural rearrangements in the C8-3 and TIL3 modules are required to expose cysteine residues for disulfide linkage. Our structure provides insight into many von Willebrand disease mutations including those that diminish FVIII binding, which suggest that factor VIII binds not only to the N-terminal TIL' domain of D' distal from D3 but also extends across one side of D3. The organizing principle for the D3 assembly has implications for other D assemblies and the construction of higher order, disulfide-linked assemblies in the Golgi in both VWF and mucins.
Thrombospondin type 1 repeats (TSRs), small adhesive protein domains with a wide range of functions, are usually modified with O-linked fucose, which may be extended to O-fucose-β1,3-glucose. Collision-induced dissociation (CID) spectra of O-fucosylated peptides cannot be sequenced by standard tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) sequence database search engines because O-linked glycans are highly labile in the gas phase and are effectively absent from the CID peptide fragment spectra, resulting in a large mass error. Electron transfer dissociation (ETD) preserves O-linked glycans on peptide fragments, but only a subset of tryptic peptides with low m/ z can be reliably sequenced from ETD spectra compared to CID. Accordingly, studies to date that have used MS to identify O-fucosylated TSRs have required manual interpretation of CID mass spectra even when ETD was also employed. In order to facilitate high-throughput, automatic identification of O-fucosylated peptides from CID spectra, we re-engineered the MS/MS sequence database search engine Comet and the MS data analysis suite Trans-Proteomic Pipeline to enable automated sequencing of peptides exhibiting the neutral losses characteristic of labile O-linked glycans. We used our approach to reanalyze published proteomics data from Plasmodium parasites and identified multiple glycoforms of TSR-containing proteins.