J Thromb Haemost. 2020 Jul 23. doi: 10.1111/jth.15025. Online ahead of print.
Protein S is a critical regulator of coagulation that functions as a cofactor for the activated protein C (APC) and tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI) pathways. It also has direct anticoagulant functions, inhibiting the intrinsic tenase and prothrombinase complexes. Through these functions, protein S regulates coagulation during both its initiation and its propagation phases. The importance of protein S in haemostatic regulation is apparent from the strong association between protein S deficiencies and increased risk for venous thrombosis. This is most likely because both APC and TFPIα are inefficient anticoagulants in the absence of any cofactors. The detailed molecular mechanisms involved in protein S cofactor functions remain to be fully clarified. However, recent advances in the field have greatly improved our understanding of these functions. Evidence suggest that protein S anticoagulant properties often depend on the presence of synergistic cofactors and the formation of multicomponent complexes on negatively charged phospholipid surfaces. Their high affinity binding to negatively charged phospholipids helps bringing the anticoagulant proteins to the membranes, resulting in efficient and targeted regulation of coagulation. In this review, we provide an update on protein S and how it functions as a critical haemostatic regulator.