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A Question of Clotting

Image: Courtesy of Barry R. Lentz  LOVING WATER AND OIL: The illustration shows a full length phosphatidylserine molecule of the sort that would occur in a platelet membrane. The molecule has a water-loving "head" end (left end with several red balls in the figure) and an oil-loving "tail" end that holds it in the membrane. The researchers used a molecule with the tail end shortened to about a third of its physiological length so that the whole molecule remains in solution instead of formi

Steve Bunk
Image: Courtesy of Barry R. Lentz
 LOVING WATER AND OIL: The illustration shows a full length phosphatidylserine molecule of the sort that would occur in a platelet membrane. The molecule has a water-loving "head" end (left end with several red balls in the figure) and an oil-loving "tail" end that holds it in the membrane. The researchers used a molecule with the tail end shortened to about a third of its physiological length so that the whole molecule remains in solution instead of forming membranes. This allowed them to show that it is this molecule, which is exposed on activated platelets and hidden prior to activation, that triggers assembly of the critical enzyme complex (prothrombinase) that leads to clot formation.

The findings in an August paper by Barry R. Lentz and colleagues are so controversial, it took three years to get them into print. Lentz, director of molecular and cellular...

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