The clotting cascade requires the assembly of protease-cofactor complexes on membranes with exposed anionic phospholipids. Despite their importance, protein-membrane interactions in clotting remain relatively poorly understood. Calcium ions are known to induce anionic phospholipids to cluster, and we propose that clotting proteins assemble preferentially on such anionic lipid-rich microdomains. Until recently, there was no way to control the partitioning of clotting proteins into or out of specific membrane microdomains, so experimenters only knew the average contributions of phospholipids to blood clotting. The development of nanoscale membrane bilayers (Nanodiscs) has now allowed us to probe, with nanometer resolution, how local variations in phospholipid composition regulate the activity of key protease-cofactor complexes in blood clotting. Furthermore, exciting new progress in solid-state NMR and large-scale molecular dynamics simulations allow structural insights into interactions between proteins and membrane surfaces with atomic resolution.
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