Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Chemical Biology

First Advisor

Umesh R. Desai


Thrombin is the key protease that regulates hemostasis; the delicate balance between procoagulation and anticoagulation of blood. In clotting disorders, like deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, procoagulation is up-regulated, but propagation of clotting can be inhibited with drugs targeting the proteases involved, like thrombin. Such drugs however, have serious side effects (e.g., excessive bleeding) and some require monitoring during the course of treatment. The reason for these side effects is the mechanism by which the drugs’ act. The two major mechanisms are direct orthosteric and indirect allosteric inhibition, which will completely abolish the protease’s activity. Herein we sought an alternative mechanism called allosteric, partial inhibition, that has shown promise to truly regulate coagulation. Partial inhibition through allosteric mechanisms are well described for membrane-bound and oligomeric proteins. However proteases, specifically monomeric proteases (i.e., thrombin), have not shown this phenomenon until now. A small library of coumarin-based sulfated allosteric modulators (CSAMs) was synthesized to target a surface region called exosite 2; mainly composed of highly positively charged residues surrounded by hydrophobic patches. Studies revealed a non-competitive mechanism of binding with a range of IC50s between 0.2-58 µM combined with inhibitory efficacies (ΔY) between 22-73%; indicative of allosteric, partial inhibition. The KD was determined for the most potent compound (3g; IC50 = 0.2 µM, ΔY = 47%) at 0.15 µM. 3g was observed to bind at exosite 2 through unfractionated heparin competition and thrombin mutant studies. Additional computational studies were in agreement with the mutant and competition studies, showing the sulfate of 3g binding within a pocket containing R126 and R233. Fluorescence quenching and antithrombin inactivation rate studies described a conformational change to thrombin’s active site in the presence of 3g, supporting reduction of thrombin’s catalytic efficiency, without complete inhibition of thrombin’s proteolytic activities. Coupled enzyme assays and gel electrophoresis showed that in the presence of 3g, hydrolysis of fibrinogen (IC50 = 0.51 µM, ΔY = 94%) and protein C activation (IC50 = 1.7 µM, ΔY = 91%) is fully inhibited. Alternatively, FXIII activation was shown to be only partially inhibited by the presence of 3g, and FXI activation did not show any significant activation or inhibition. 3g was also shown to be active in human plasma and whole blood, but requiring much higher concentrations to induce an anticoagulant effect. Mice studies looking at the effects of 3g in vivo showed that even at high concentrations, showed no abnormal bleeding or any other irregularities. This work highlights a novel occurrence regarding thrombin’s allosteric functionality against multiple endogenous substrates. This library of compounds may be useful in the future development of allosteric inhibitors and probes that pose little to no risk of bleeding events by inducing partial inhibition.


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