Divergent fates of von Willebrand factor and its propolypeptide (von Willebrand antigen II) after secretion from endothelial cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • The intracellular site of cleavage of pro-von Willebrand factor subunit and the subsequent fate of the propolypeptide (von Willebrand antigen II) and of the mature von Willebrand factor (vWf) were investigated. Both the propolypeptide, which was found to be a homodimer of noncovalently linked subunits, and mature vWf were released from Weibel-Palade bodies of endothelial cells following stimulation with secretagogues. The stoichiometry of the two released proteins was essentially equimolar. This indicates that vWf and the propolypeptide were packaged into the Weibel-Palade bodies as one unit, pro-vWf, and that the proteolytic cleavage of pro-vWf is likely to be a post-Golgi event. The association of prosequences into dimers supports their hypothetical role in the multimerization process. After secretion, the two proteins were distributed differently, as based on the following observations. The propolypeptide did not associate with vWf in the culture medium, did not codistribute with vWf in the extracellular "patches of release" on stimulated endothelial cells, and was not detected in the endothelial cell extracellular matrix, which did contain vWf. Additionally, in contrast to vWf, the propolypeptide did not bind to the matrix of human foreskin fibroblasts. Since the propolypeptide does not associate with vWf and does not interact with extracellular matrices in vitro, it is highly unlikely that it would promote platelet adhesion to subendothelium in vivo.

publication date

  • April 1987