Protein C

Protein C, also known as autoprothrombin IIA and blood coagulation factor XIV, is a zymogen, the activated form of which plays an important role in regulating anticoagulation, inflammation, 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 as 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. The zymogenic form of protein C is a vitamin K-dependent glycoprotein that circulates in blood plasma. Its structure is that of a two-chain polypeptide consisting of a light chain and a heavy chain connected by a disulfide bond. The protein C zymogen is activated when it binds to thrombin, another protein heavily involved in coagulation, and protein C’s activation is greatly promoted by the presence of thrombomodulin and endothelial protein C receptors (EPCRs). Because of EPCR’s role, activated protein C is found primarily near endothelial cells (i.e., those that make up the walls of blood vessels), and it is these cells and leukocytes (white blood cells) that APC affects. Because of the crucial role that protein C plays as an anticoagulant, those with deficiencies in protein C, or some kind of resistance to APC, suffer from a significantly increased risk of forming dangerous blood clots (thrombosis).