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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Structural investigation of zymogenic and activated forms of human blood coagulation factor VIII: a computational molecular dynamics study

Divi Venkateswarlu

Author Affiliations

Department of Chemistry, 1601, E. Market Street, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC 27411, USA

BMC Structural Biology 2010, 10:7  doi:10.1186/1472-6807-10-7

Published: 25 February 2010



Human blood coagulation factor VIII (fVIII) is a large plasma glycoprotein with sequential domain arrangement in the order A1-a1-A2-a2-B-a3-A3-C1-C2. The A1, A2 and A3 domains are interconnected by long linker peptides (a1, a2 and a3) that possess the activation sites. Proteolysis of fVIII zymogen by thrombin or factor Xa results in the generation of the activated form (fVIIIa) which serves as a critical co-factor for factor IXa (fIXa) enzyme in the intrinsic coagulation pathway.


In our efforts to elucidate the structural differences between fVIII and fVIIIa, we developed the solution structural models of both forms, starting from an incomplete 3.7 Å X-ray crystal structure of fVIII zymogen, using explicit solvent MD simulations. The full assembly of B-domainless single-chain fVIII was built between the A1-A2 (Ala1-Arg740) and A3-C1-C2 (Ser1669-Tyr2332) domains. The structural dynamics of fVIII and fVIIIa, simulated for over 70 ns of time scale, enabled us to evaluate the integral motions of the multi-domain assembly of the co-factor and the possible coordination pattern of the functionally important calcium and copper ion binding in the protein.


MD simulations predicted that the acidic linker peptide (a1) between the A1 and A2 domains is largely flexible and appears to mask the exposure of putative fIXa enzyme binding loop (Tyr555-Asp569) region in the A2 domain. The simulation of fVIIIa, generated from the zymogen structure, predicted that the linker peptide (a1) undergoes significant conformational reorganization upon activation by relocating completely to the A1-domain. The conformational transition led to the exposure of the Tyr555-Asp569 loop and the surrounding region in the A2 domain. While the proposed linker peptide conformation is predictive in nature and warrants further experimental validation, the observed conformational differences between the zymogen and activated forms may explain and support the large body of experimental data that implicated the critical importance of the cleavage of the peptide bond between the Arg372 and Ser373 residues for the full co-factor activity of fVIII.