New insights into the regulation of haemostasis

28. November 2018

German Scientists investigate the structure of the von Willebrand factor (VWF), a key protein involved in blood clotting. HITS researchers from the Molecular Biomechanics group simulated the dynamics of the platelet integrin-binding VWF C4 domain to better understand disease mutations of this protein. The project was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

The von Willebrand factor (VWF) protein is a key player in the regulation of haemostasis, i.e. blood clotting. It binds to proteins on the surface of blood platelets, thus assisting the process of platelet aggregation which causes a blood clot to form.  Since 2011, a group of researchers funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft ( ) have been investigating the structure and the function of this important protein. In a new paper published in the journal Blood, they report the structure of a key region of VWF known as the C4 domain. In this study, HITS researcher Prof. Frauke Gräter (Molecular Biomechanics group) and her colleagues Dr. Camilo Aponte-Santamaria and Dr. Katra Kolsek simulated a key region of the protein, called C4 domain. In conjunction with experimental measurements, they jointly with colleagues at EMBL revealed the dynamics of this region at atomistic detail, which might help in future to better understand how VWF-related diseases come about.

Publication in Blood:

Interview with project partners Matthias Wilmanns and Janosch Hennig (both EMBL Heidelberg):

About HITS

HITS, the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, was established in 2010 by physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural, mathematical, and computer sciences. Major research directions include complex simulations across scales, making sense of data, and enabling science via computational research. Application areas range from molecular biology to astrophysics. An essential characteristic of the Institute is interdisciplinarity, implemented in numerous cross-group and cross-disciplinary projects. The base funding of HITS is provided by the Klaus Tschira Foundation.

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