Polyphosphate and omptins: Novel bacterial procoagulant agents

Thomas H. Yun, James H. Morrissey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Derangement of the blood clotting system contributes strongly to multiple organ failure in severe sepsis. In this review, we examine two microbial modulators of the clotting system: polyphosphates and omptins. Polyphosphates are linear polymers of inorganic phosphate that are abundant in the acidocalcisomes of prokaryotes and unicellular organisms as well as in the dense granules of human platelets. Polyphosphates modulate haemostasis by: (1) triggering clotting via the contact pathway; (2) accelerating the activation of coagulation factor V (a key cofactor in blood clotting) and (3) causing fibrin to form clots whose fibrils are thicker and more resistant to fibrinolysis. While polyphosphates are found in all prokaryotes, omptins have a more limited distribution among certain Gram-negative species. Omptins are outer membrane aspartyl proteases which were recently found to proteolytically inactivate tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI), the main inhibitor of the initiation phase of blood clotting. Omptin activity against TFPI requires lipopolysaccharide without O-antigen (rough LPS) such as is found on the surface of Yersinia pestis, the etiologic agent of plague. Interestingly, expression of Pla, the Yersinia pestis omptin, has a demonstrated virulence role in converting plasminogen into the fibrinolytic enzyme plasmin, which would seemingly antagonize any procoagulant effect of TFPI inactivation. However, since the rate of TFPI inactivation is much higher than the rate of plasminogen activation, we suggest that Pla may have a dual function in supporting the bubonic form of plague which is unique to Yersinia pestis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4146-4153
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Blood clotting
  • Plasminogen
  • Sepsis
  • Tissue factor pathway inhibitor
  • Yersinia pestis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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