We recently isolated a cDNA clone encoding a functional platelet thrombin receptor that defined a unique mechanism of receptor activation. Thrombin cleaves its receptor's extracellular amino terminal extension, unmasking a new amino terminus that functions as a tethered peptide ligand and activates the receptor. A novel peptide mimicking this new amino terminus was a full agonist for platelet secretion and aggregation, suggesting that this unusual mechanism accounts for platelet activation by thrombin. Does this mechanism also mediate thrombin's assorted actions on non-platelet cells? We now report that the novel thrombin receptor agonist peptide reproduces thrombin-induced events (specifically, phosphoinositide hydrolysis and mitogenesis) in CCL-39 hamster lung fibroblasts, a naturally thrombin-responsive cell line. Moreover, these thrombin-induced events could be recapitulated in CV-1 cells, normally poorly responsive to thrombin, after transfection with human platelet thrombin receptor cDNA. Our data show that important thrombin-induced cellular events are mediated by the same unusual mechanism of receptor activation in both platelets and fibroblasts, very likely via the same or very similar receptors.

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