von Willebrand factor sialylation - a critical regulator of biological function
journal contributionposted on 01.07.2021, 16:05 by Soracha Enright Ward, Jamie O'Sullivan, James O'Donnell
Essentials Von Willebrand Factor (VWF) is extensively glycosylated with serial studies demonstrating that these carbohydrate determinants play critical roles in regulating multiple aspects of VWF biology. Terminal sialic acid residues, expressed on both the N- and O-linked glycans of VWF, regulate VWF functional activity, susceptibility to proteolysis and plasma clearance in vivo. Quantitative and qualitative variations in VWF sialylation have been reported in patients with von Willebrand Disease, as well as in a number of other physiological and pathological states. Further studies are warranted to define the molecular mechanisms through which N- and O-linked sialylation impacts upon the multiple biological activities of VWF. von Willebrand factor (VWF) undergoes complex post-translational modification prior to its secretion into the plasma. Consequently, VWF monomers contain complex N-glycan and O-glycan structures that, together, account for approximately 20% of the final monomeric mass. An increasing body of evidence has confirmed that these carbohydrate determinants play critical roles in regulating multiple aspects of VWF biology. In particular, studies have demonstrated that terminal ABO blood group has an important effect on plasma VWF levels. This effect is interesting, given that only 15% of the N-glycans and 1% of the O-glycans of VWF actually express terminal ABO(H) determinants. In contrast, the vast majority of the N-glycans and O-glycans on human VWF are capped by terminal negatively charged sialic acid residues. Recent data suggest that sialylation significantly regulates VWF functional activity, susceptibility to proteolysis, and clearance, through a number of independent pathways. These findings are of direct clinical relevence, in that quantitative and qualitative variations in VWF sialylation have been described in patients with VWD, as well as in patients with a number of other physiologic and pathologic conditions. Moreover, platelet-derived VWF is significantly hyposialylated as compared with plasma-derived VWF, whereas the recently licensed recombinant VWF therapeutic is hypersialylated. In this review, we examine the evidence supporting the hypothesis that VWF sialylation plays multiple biological roles. In addition, we consider data suggesting that quantitative and qualitative variations in VWF sialylation may play specific roles in the pathogenesis of VWD, and that sialic acid expression on VWF may also differ across a number of other physiologic and pathologic conditions.
Science Foundation Ireland. Grant Number: 11/PI/1066
CommentsThis is the peer reviewed version of the following article:, Ward S, O'Sullivan JM, O'Donnell JS. von Willebrand factor sialylation - a critical regulator of biological function. J Thromb Haemost. 2019;17(7):1018-1029, which has been published in final form at DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jth.14471. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Published CitationWard S, O'Sullivan JM, O'Donnell JS. von Willebrand factor sialylation - a critical regulator of biological function. J Thromb Haemost. 2019;17(7):1018-1029.
Publication Date4 May 2019
- Irish Centre for Vascular Biology
- School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences
- Health Professions Education
- Vascular Biology
- Immunity, Infection and Inflammation
- Accepted Version (Postprint)