Localization of tissue factor in actin-filament-rich membrane areas of epithelial cells

Martin Müller, Sybille Albrecht, Friedemann Gölfert, Andreas Hofer, Richard H.W. Funk, Viktor Magdolen, Conrad Flössel, Thomas Luther

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Tissue factor (TF), the cellular receptor and cofactor for clotting factor VII/VIIa (FVII/VIIa), is known mainly as the initiator of the coagulation protease cascade. Recently, it was shown that inactivation of the murine TF gene (TF-/-) results in embryonic lethality which is most likely due to some failure of vascular integrity. On the other hand, gene disruption in mice of coagulation proteins like FVII, prothrombin, and fibrinogen results in phenotypes of embryonic development that contrast with that of TF- /-, suggesting a role for TF beyond fibrin formation in embryogenesis. In addition, there is a growing body of evidence that cellular TF may be involved in nonhemostatic functions. To determine the microtopography of membrane TF with regard to the cytoskeleton organization, we examined the expression patterns of TF and cytoskeletal proteins in various cell lines by means of double immunofluorescence and electron microscopy (EM). In spreading cells, a granular membrane TF expression of the cell cortex and a pronounced granular TF staining of microspikes, lamellipodes, and ruffled membrane areas were observed. Especially, actin and α-actinin were in close proximity to TF in these regions. Colocalization of TF and nonmuscle filamin (ABP-280) at the leading edge of spreading cells indicated an association of TF with the actin filament system, too. Using scanning EM we found gold-labeled TF at long processes and actin-filament-containing microspikes of neighboring cells in both branching and contact sites. By the means of immunogold EM we observed that TF is localized at the cell surface in a spotty pattern, at the base and at the top of budding processes. The observed staining pattern points to a connection of TF with elements of the cytoskeleton in these highly dynamic membrane regions, a fact which is underlined by the recently described molecular interaction of TF's cytoplasmic domain with ABP-280. In cells undergoing cytokinesis, we detected also strong TF expression in dynamic membrane areas and protrusions of the midbodies, indicating an accumulation of TF in actin-rich membrane areas with high contractile activity. In addition, we were able to demonstrate that immobilized ligands for TF, both catalytically active and inactive FVIIa or anti-TF mAbs, accelerated adhesion and spreading of TF-expressing cancer cells. Thus, our findings support the contention that ligation of cellular TF may be involved in morphogenic processes such as adhesion and spreading by an association to cytoskeletal structures. On the other hand, incubation of these cells with proteolytically active FVIIa but not with covalently inactivated FVIIa (DEGR-FVIIa) or anti- TF mAbs in solution resulted in increased motility of these cells, indicating that not only ligation of TF but also the proteolytic activity of TF-FVIIa complex is involved in cell migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-147
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Apr 1999


  • Actin filaments
  • Adhesion
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Midbody
  • Tissue factor


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