Journal of Biological Chemistry vol:259 issue:9 pages:5670-7
The mechanism of the heparin-promoted reaction of thrombin with antithrombin III was investigated by using covalent complexes of antithrombin III with either high-affinity heparin (Mr = 15,000) or heparin fragments having an average of 16 and 12 monosaccharide units (Mr = 4,300 and 3,200). The complexes inhibit thrombin in the manner of active site-directed, irreversible inhibitors: (Formula: see text) That is, the inhibition rate of the enzyme is saturable with respect to concentration of complexes. The values determined for Ki = (k-1 + k2)/k1 are 7 nM, 100 nM, and 6 microM when the Mr of the heparin moieties are 15,000, 4,300, 3,200, respectively, whereas k2 (2 S-1) is independent of the heparin chain length. The bimolecular rate constant k2/Ki for intact heparin is 3 X 10(8) M-1 S-1 and the corresponding second order rate constant k1 is 6.7 X 10(8) M-1 S-1, a value greater than that expected for a diffusion-controlled bimolecular reaction. The bimolecular rate constants for the complexes with heparin of Mr = 4,300 and 3,200 are, respectively, 2 X 10(7) M-1 S-1 and 3 X 10(5) M-1 S-1. Active site-blocked thrombin is an antagonist of covalent antithrombin III-heparin complexes: the effect is monophasic and half-maximum at 4 nM of antagonist against the complex with intact heparin, whereas the effect is weaker against complexes with heparin fragments and not monophasic. We conclude that virtually all of the activity of high affinity, high molecular weight heparin depends on binding both thrombin and antithrombin III to heparin, and that the exceptionally high activity of heparin results in part from the capacity of thrombin bound nonspecifically to heparin to diffuse in the dimension of the heparin chain towards bound antithrombin III. Increasing the chain length of heparin results in an increased reaction rate because of a higher probability of interaction between thrombin and heparin in solution.