Ross, C. C., MacLeod, S. L., Plaxco, J. R., Froude, J. W., Fink, L. M., Wang, J., Stites, W. E. and Hauer-Jensen, M. Inactivation of Thrombomodulin by Ionizing Radiation in a Cell-Free System: Possible Implications for the Radiation Responses in Vascular Endothelium. Radiat. Res. 169, 408–416 (2008).

Normal tissue radiation injury is associated with loss of vascular thromboresistance, notably because of deficient levels of endothelial thrombomodulin (TM). TM is located on the luminal surface of most endothelial cells and has critical anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory functions. Chemical oxidation of a specific methionine residue (Met388) at the thrombin-binding site in TM reduces its main functional activity, i.e., the ability to activate protein C. We examined whether exposure to ionizing radiation affects TM in a similar manner. Full-length recombinant human TM, a construct of epidermal growth factor-like domains 4–6, which are involved in protein C activation, and a synthetic peptide containing the methionine of interest were exposed to γ radiation in a cell-free system, i.e., a system not confounded by TM turnover or ectodomain shedding. The influence of radiation on functional activity was assessed with the protein C activation assay; formation of a TM-thrombin complex was assessed with surface plasmon resonance (Biacore), and oxidation of Met388 was assessed by HPLC and confirmed by mass spectroscopy. Exposure to radiation caused a dose-dependent reduction in protein C activation, impaired TM-thrombin complex formation, and oxidation of Met388. These results demonstrate that ionizing radiation adversely affects the TM molecule. Our findings may have relevance to normal tissue toxicity in clinical radiation therapy as well as to the development of radiation syndromes in the non-therapeutic radiation exposure setting.

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