Human platelets participate in a number of adhesive interactions, including binding to exposed subendothelium after vascular injury, and platelet-platelet cohesion to form large aggregates. Platelet membrane glycoproteins (GP) IIb and IIIa constitute a receptor for fibrinogen that, together with fibrinogen and calcium, is largely responsible for mediating the formation of the primary hemostatic plug. Using highly specific polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies as probes, we could detect the presence of both of these glycoproteins in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Western-blot analysis showed that the endothelial cell analogues were similar in size to their platelet counterparts, and were present in cells that had been in culture for over 2 mo. Metabolic labeling of endothelium with [35S]methionine demonstrated that both GPIIb and GPIIIa were actively synthesized in culture. Using the technique of crossed immunoelectrophoresis, evidence was obtained that the endothelial cell forms of GPIIb and GPIIIa may exist complexed to one another after solubilization in Triton X-100. The presence of GPIIb-IIIa analogues in cultured endothelial cells may provide an opportunity to examine the structure, function, and synthesis of these two membrane glycoproteins, as well as provide a source of genetic material with which to begin detailed molecular genetic studies.

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