Last updated
Available structures
PDB Ortholog search: PDBe RCSB
Aliases F2 , PT, RPRGL2, THPH1, coagulation factor II, thrombin
External IDs OMIM: 176930 MGI: 88380 HomoloGene: 426 GeneCards: F2
Gene location (Human)
Ideogram human chromosome 11.svg
Chr. Chromosome 11 (human) [1]
Human chromosome 11 ideogram.svg
HSR 1996 II 3.5e.svg
Red rectangle 2x18.png
Band 11p11.2Start46,719,196 bp [1]
End46,739,506 bp [1]
RNA expression pattern
PBB GE F2 205754 at fs.png
More reference expression data
RefSeq (mRNA)



RefSeq (protein)



Location (UCSC) Chr 11: 46.72 – 46.74 Mb Chr 2: 91.63 – 91.64 Mb
PubMed search [3] [4]
View/Edit Human View/Edit Mouse
Role of thrombin in the blood coagulation cascade Coagulation full.svg
Role of thrombin in the blood coagulation cascade

Thrombin (EC, fibrinogenase, thrombase, thrombofort, topical, thrombin-C, tropostasin, activated blood-coagulation factor II, blood-coagulation factor IIa, factor IIa, E thrombin, beta-thrombin, gamma-thrombin) is a serine protease, an enzyme that, in humans, is encoded by the F2 gene. [5] [6] Prothrombin (coagulation factor II) is proteolytically cleaved to form thrombin in the clotting process. Thrombin in turn acts as a serine protease that converts soluble fibrinogen into insoluble strands of fibrin, as well as catalyzing many other coagulation-related reactions.


After the description of fibrinogen and fibrin, Alexander Schmidt hypothesised the existence of an enzyme that converts fibrinogen into fibrin in 1872. [7]

Prothrombin was discovered by Pekelharing in 1894. [8] [9] [10]



Thrombin is produced by the enzymatic cleavage of two sites on prothrombin by activated Factor X (Xa). The activity of factor Xa is greatly enhanced by binding to activated Factor V (Va), termed the prothrombinase complex. Prothrombin is produced in the liver and is co-translationally modified in a vitamin K-dependent reaction that converts 10-12 glutamic acids in the N terminus of the molecule to gamma-carboxyglutamic acid (Gla). [11] In the presence of calcium, the Gla residues promote the binding of prothrombin to phospholipid bilayers. Deficiency of vitamin K or administration of the anticoagulant warfarin inhibits the production of gamma-carboxyglutamic acid residues, slowing the activation of the coagulation cascade.

In human adults, the normal blood level of antithrombin activity has been measured to be around 1.1 units/mL. Newborn levels of thrombin steadily increase after birth to reach normal adult levels, from a level of around 0.5 units/mL 1 day after birth, to a level of around 0.9 units/mL after 6 months of life. [12]

Mechanism of action

In the blood coagulation pathway, thrombin acts to convert factor XI to XIa, VIII to VIIIa, V to Va, fibrinogen to fibrin, and XIII to XIIIa.

Factor XIIIa is a transglutaminase that catalyzes the formation of covalent bonds between lysine and glutamine residues in fibrin. The covalent bonds increase the stability of the fibrin clot. Thrombin interacts with thrombomodulin. [13] [14]

As part of its activity in the coagulation cascade, thrombin also promotes platelet activation and aggregation via activation of protease-activated receptors on the cell membrane of the platelet.

Negative feedback

Thrombin bound to thrombomodulin activates protein C, an inhibitor of the coagulation cascade. The activation of protein C is greatly enhanced following the binding of thrombin to thrombomodulin, an integral membrane protein expressed by endothelial cells. Activated protein C inactivates factors Va and VIIIa. Binding of activated protein C to protein S leads to a modest increase in its activity. Thrombin is also inactivated by antithrombin, a serine protease inhibitor.


Anchoring of bovine prothrombin to the membrane through its Gla domain. 1nl2 opm.png
Anchoring of bovine prothrombin to the membrane through its Gla domain.

The molecular weight of prothrombin is approximately 72,000 Da. The catalytic domain is released from prothrombin fragment 1.2 to create the active enzyme thrombin, which has a molecular weight of 36,000 Da. Structurally, it is a member of the large PA clan of proteases.

Prothrombin is composed of four domains; an N-terminal Gla domain, two kringle domains and a C-terminal trypsin-like serine protease domain. Factor Xa with factor V as a cofactor leads to cleavage of the Gla and two Kringle domains (forming together a fragment called fragment 1.2) and leave thrombin, consisting solely of the serine protease domain. [16]

As is the case for all serine proteases, prothrombin is converted to active thrombin by proteolysis of an internal peptide bond, exposing a new N-terminal Ile-NH3. The historic model of activation of serine proteases involves insertion of this newly formed N-terminus of the heavy chain into the β-barrel promoting the correct conformation of the catalytic residues. [17] Contrary to crystal structures of active thrombin, hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry studies indicate that this N-terminal Ile-NH3 does not become inserted into the β-barrel in the apo form of thrombin. However, binding of the active fragment of thrombomodulin appears to allosterically promote the active conformation of thrombin by inserting this N-terminal region. [18]


The thrombin (prothrombin) gene is located on the eleventh chromosome (11p11-q12). [5]

There are an estimated 30 people in the world that have been diagnosed with the congenital form of Factor II deficiency, [19] which should not be confused with the prothrombin G20210A mutation, which is also called the factor II mutation. Prothrombin G20210A is congenital. [20]

Prothrombin G20210A is not usually accompanied by other factor mutations (i.e., the most common is factor V Leiden). The gene may be inherited heterozygous (1 pair), or much more rarely, homozygous (2 pairs), and is not related to gender or blood type. Homozygous mutations increase the risk of thrombosis more than heterozygous mutations, but the relative increased risk is not well documented. Other potential risks for thrombosis, such as oral contraceptives may be additive. The previously reported relationship of inflammatory bowel disease (i.e., Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis) and prothrombin G20210A or factor V Leiden mutation have been contradicted by research. [21]

Role in disease

Activation of prothrombin is crucial in physiological and pathological coagulation. Various rare diseases involving prothrombin have been described (e.g., hypoprothrombinemia). Anti-prothrombin antibodies in autoimmune disease may be a factor in the formation of the lupus anticoagulant (also known as antiphospholipid syndrome). Hyperprothrombinemia can be caused by the G20210A mutation.

Thrombin, a potent vasoconstrictor and mitogen, is implicated as a major factor in vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage. Blood from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm clots around a cerebral artery, releasing thrombin. This can induce an acute and prolonged narrowing of the blood vessel, potentially resulting in cerebral ischemia and infarction (stroke).

Beyond its key role in the dynamic process of thrombus formation, thrombin has a pronounced pro-inflammatory character, which may influence the onset and progression of atherosclerosis. Acting via its specific cell membrane receptors (protease activated receptors: PAR-1, PAR-3 and PAR-4), which are abundantly expressed in all arterial vessel wall constituents, thrombin has the potential to exert pro-atherogenic actions such as inflammation, leukocyte recruitment into the atherosclerotic plaque, enhanced oxidative stress, migration and proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells, apoptosis and angiogenesis. [22] [23] [24]

Thrombin is implicated in the physiology of blood clots. Its presence indicates the existence of a clot. In 2013 a system for detecting the presence of thrombin was developed in mice. It combines peptide-coated iron oxide attached to "reporter chemicals". When a peptide binds to a thrombin molecule, the report is released and appears in the urine where it can be detected. Human testing has not been conducted. [25]


Research tool

Due to its high proteolytic specificity, thrombin is a valuable biochemical tool. The thrombin cleavage site (Leu-Val-Pro-Arg-Gly-Ser) is commonly included in linker regions of recombinant fusion protein constructs. Following purification of the fusion protein, thrombin can be used to selectively cleave between the arginine and glycine residues of the cleavage site, effectively removing the purification tag from the protein of interest with a high degree of specificity.

Medicine and surgery

Prothrombin complex concentrate and fresh frozen plasma are prothrombin-rich coagulation factor preparations that can be used to correct deficiencies (usually due to medication) of prothrombin. Indications include intractable bleeding due to warfarin.

Manipulation of prothrombin is central to the mode of action of most anticoagulants. Warfarin and related drugs inhibit vitamin K-dependent carboxylation of several coagulation factors, including prothrombin. Heparin increases the affinity of antithrombin to thrombin (as well as factor Xa). The direct thrombin inhibitors, a newer class of medication, directly inhibit thrombin by binding to its active site.

Recombinant thrombin is available as a powder for reconstitution into aqueous solution. It can be applied topically during surgery, as an aid to hemostasis. It can be useful for controlling minor bleeding from capillaries and small venules, but ineffective and not indicated for massive or brisk arterial bleeding. [26] [27] [28]

Food production

Thrombin, combined with fibrinogen, is sold under the brand name Fibrimex for use as a binding agent for meat. Both proteins in Fibrimex derives from porcine or bovine blood. [29] According to the manufacturer it can be used to produce new kinds of mixed meats (for example combining beef and fish seamlessly). The manufacturer also states that it can be used to combine whole muscle meat, form and portion these, thus cutting down on production costs without a loss in quality. [30]

General secretary Jan Bertoft of Swedish Consumers' Association has stated that "there is danger of misleading the consumers since there is no way to tell this reconstituted meat from real meat". [29]

See also

Related Research Articles

Thrombus blood clot

A thrombus, colloquially called a blood clot, is the final product of the blood coagulation step in hemostasis. There are two components to a thrombus: aggregated platelets and red blood cells that form a plug, and a mesh of cross-linked fibrin protein. The substance making up a thrombus is sometimes called cruor. A thrombus is a healthy response to injury intended to prevent bleeding, but can be harmful in thrombosis, when clots obstruct blood flow through healthy blood vessels.

Coagulation Process by which blood changes from a liquid to a gel, forming a blood clot

Coagulation, also known as clotting, is the process by which blood changes from a liquid to a gel, forming a blood clot. It potentially results in hemostasis, the cessation of blood loss from a damaged vessel, followed by repair. The mechanism of coagulation involves activation, adhesion and aggregation of platelets, as well as deposition and maturation of fibrin.

Disseminated intravascular coagulation pathological process characterized by the widespread activation of the clotting cascade that results in the formation of blood clots in the small blood vessels throughout the body

Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a condition in which blood clots form throughout the body, blocking small blood vessels. Symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, leg pain, problems speaking, or problems moving parts of the body. As clotting factors and platelets are used up, bleeding may occur. This may include blood in the urine, blood in the stool, or bleeding into the skin. Complications may include organ failure.

Factor V Leiden is a variant of human factor V, which causes an increase in blood clotting (hypercoagulability). Due to this mutation, Protein C, an anticoagulant protein which normally inhibits the pro-clotting activity of factor V, is not able to bind normally to Factor V, leading to a hypercoagulable state, i.e., an increased tendency for the patient to form abnormal and potentially harmful blood clots. Factor V Leiden is the most common hereditary hypercoagulability disorder amongst ethnic Europeans. It is named after the Dutch city Leiden, where it was first identified in 1994 by Prof R. Bertina under the direction of Prof P. Reitsma. Despite the increased risk of VTE, people with one copy of this gene have not been found to have shorter lives than the general population.

Fibrinogen Soluble protein complex in blood plasma and involved in clot formation

Fibrinogen is a glycoprotein complex, made in the liver, that circulates in the blood of all vertebrates. During tissue and vascular injury, it is converted enzymatically by thrombin to fibrin and then to a fibrin-based blood clot. Fibrin clots function primarily to occlude blood vessels to stop bleeding. Fibrin also binds and reduces the activity of thrombin. This activity, sometimes referred to as antithrombin I, limits clotting. Fibrin also mediates blood platelet and endothelial cell spreading, tissue fibroblast proliferation, capillary tube formation, and angiogenesis and thereby promotes revascularization and wound healing.

Carboxyglutamic acid chemical compound

Carboxyglutamic acid, is an uncommon amino acid introduced into proteins by a post-translational carboxylation of glutamic acid residues. This modification is found, for example, in clotting factors and other proteins of the coagulation cascade. This modification introduces an affinity for calcium ions. In the blood coagulation cascade, vitamin K is required to introduce gamma-carboxylation of clotting factors II, VII, IX, X and protein Z.

Factor XIII class of enzymes

Factor XIII or fibrin stabilizing factor is a zymogen found from the blood of humans and some other animals. It is activated by thrombin to factor XIIIa. XIIIa is an enzyme of the blood coagulation system that crosslinks fibrin. Deficiency of XIII worsens clot stability and increases bleeding tendency.

Protein C mammalian protein found in Homo sapiens

Protein C, also known as autoprothrombin IIA and blood coagulation factor XIX, is a zymogen, the activated form of which plays an important role in regulating anticoagulation, inflammation, and cell death and maintaining the permeability of blood vessel walls in humans and other animals. Activated protein C (APC) performs these operations primarily by proteolytically inactivating proteins Factor Va and Factor VIIIa. APC is classified as a serine protease since it contains a residue of serine in its active site. In humans, protein C is encoded by the PROC gene, which is found on chromosome 2.

Thrombophilia abnormality of blood coagulation that increases the risk of thrombosis (blood clots in blood vessels)

Thrombophilia is an abnormality of blood coagulation that increases the risk of thrombosis. Such abnormalities can be identified in 50% of people who have an episode of thrombosis that was not provoked by other causes. A significant proportion of the population has a detectable thrombophilic abnormality, but most of these develop thrombosis only in the presence of an additional risk factor.

Factor X mammalian protein found in Homo sapiens

Factor X, also known by the eponym Stuart–Prower factor, is an enzyme of the coagulation cascade. It is a serine endopeptidase. Factor X is synthesized in the liver and requires vitamin K for its synthesis.

Factor V mammalian protein found in Homo sapiens

Factor V is a protein of the coagulation system, rarely referred to as proaccelerin or labile factor. In contrast to most other coagulation factors, it is not enzymatically active but functions as a cofactor. Deficiency leads to predisposition for hemorrhage, while some mutations predispose for thrombosis.

Hirudin chemical compound

Hirudin is a naturally occurring peptide in the salivary glands of blood-sucking leeches that has a blood anticoagulant property. This is fundamental for the leeches’ alimentary habit of hematophagy, since it keeps the blood flowing after the initial phlebotomy performed by the worm on the host’s skin.

Plasminogen activator class of enzymes

Plasminogen activators are serine proteases that catalyze the activation of plasmin via proteolytic cleavage of its zymogen form plasminogen. Plasmin is an important factor in fibrinolysis, the breakdown of fibrin polymers formed during blood clotting. There are two main plasminogen activators: urokinase (uPA) and tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). Tissue plasminogen activators are used to treat medical conditions related to blood clotting including embolic or thrombotic stroke, myocardial infarction, and pulmonary embolism.

Tissue factor mammalian protein found in Homo sapiens

Tissue factor, also called platelet tissue factor, factor III, or CD142, is a protein encoded by the F3 gene, present in subendothelial tissue and leukocytes. Its role in the clotting process is the initiation of thrombin formation from the zymogen prothrombin. Thromboplastin defines the cascade that leads to the activation of factor X—the tissue factor pathway. In doing so, it has replaced the previously named extrinsic pathway in order to eliminate ambiguity.

The prothrombinase complex consists of the serine protease, Factor Xa, and the protein cofactor, Factor Va. The complex assembles on negatively charged phospholipid membranes in the presence of calcium ions. The prothrombinase complex catalyzes the conversion of prothrombin (Factor II), an inactive zymogen, to thrombin (Factor IIa), an active serine protease. The activation of thrombin is a critical reaction in the coagulation cascade, which functions to regulate hemostasis in the body. To produce thrombin, the prothrombinase complex cleaves two peptide bonds in prothrombin, one after Arg271 and the other after Arg320. Although it has been shown that Factor Xa can activate prothrombin when unassociated with the prothrombinase complex, the rate of thrombin formation is severely decreased under such circumstances. The prothrombinase complex can catalyze the activation of prothrombin at a rate 3 x 105-fold faster than can Factor Xa alone. Thus, the prothrombinase complex is required for the efficient production of activated thrombin and also for adequate hemostasis.

Thrombomodulin mammalian protein found in Homo sapiens

Thrombomodulin (TM), CD141 or BDCA-3 is an integral membrane protein expressed on the surface of endothelial cells and serves as a cofactor for thrombin. It reduces blood coagulation by converting thrombin to an anticoagulant enzyme from a procoagulant enzyme. Thrombomodulin is also expressed on human mesothelial cell, monocyte and a dendritic cell subset.

Thrombin time

The thrombin time (TT), also known as the thrombin clotting time (TCT) is a blood test that measures the time it takes for a clot to form in the plasma of a blood sample containing anticoagulant, after an excess of thrombin has been added. It is used to diagnose blood coagulation disorders and to assess the effectiveness of fibrinolytic therapy. This test is repeated with pooled plasma from normal patients. The difference in time between the test and the 'normal' indicates an abnormality in the conversion of fibrinogen to fibrin, an insoluble protein.

Batroxobin, also known as reptilase, is a snake venom enzyme with Venombin A activity produced by Bothrops atrox and Bothrops moojeni, venomous species of pit viper found east of the Andes in South America. It is a hemotoxin which acts as a serine protease similarly to thrombin, and has been the subject of many medical studies as a replacement of thrombin. Different enzymes, isolated from different species of Bothrops, have been called batroxobin, but unless stated otherwise, this article covers the batroxobin produced by B. moojeni, as this is the most studied variety.

Blood clotting tests are the tests used for diagnostics of the hemostasis system. Coagulometer is the medical laboratory analyzer used for testing of the hemostasis system. Modern coagulometers realize different methods of activation and observation of development of blood clots in blood or in blood plasma.

The platelet plug, also known as the hemostatic plug or platelet thrombus, is an aggregation of platelets formed during the earlier stage of hemostasis in response to blood vessel wall injury. After platelets are recruited and begin to accumulate around the breakage, their “sticky” nature allows them to adhere to each other. This forms a platelet plug, which prevents more blood from leaving the body as well as any outside contaminants from getting in. The plug provides a temporary blockage of the break in the vasculature. As such, platelet plug formation occurs after vasoconstriction of the blood vessels but before the creation of the fibrin mesh clot, which is the more permanent solution to the injury. The result of the platelet plug formation is the coagulation of blood. It can also be referred to as primary hemostasis.


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Further reading