The evolution of factor XI and the kallikrein-kinin system

Michal B. Ponczek, Aleksandr Shamanaev, Alec LaPlace, S. Kent Dickeson, Priyanka Srivastava, Mao Fu Sun, Andras Gruber, Christian Kastrup, Jonas Emsley, David Gailani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Factor XI (FXI) is the zymogen of a plasma protease (FXIa) that contributes to hemostasis by activating factor IX (FIX). In the original cascade model of coagulation, FXI is converted to FXIa by factor XIIa (FXIIa), a component, along with prekallikrein and high-molecular-weight kininogen (HK), of the plasma kallikrein-kinin system (KKS). More recent coagulation models emphasize thrombin as a FXI activator, bypassing the need for FXIIa and the KKS. We took an evolutionary approach to better understand the relationship of FXI to the KKS and thrombin generation. BLAST searches were conducted for FXI, FXII, prekallikrein, and HK using genomes for multiple vertebrate species. The analysis shows the KKS appeared in lobe-finned fish, the ancestors of all land vertebrates. FXI arose later from a duplication of the prekallikrein gene early in mammalian evolution. Features of FXI that facilitate efficient FIX activation are present in all living mammals, including primitive egg-laying monotremes, and may represent enhancement of FIX-activating activity inherent in prekallikrein. FXI activation by thrombin is a more recent acquisition, appearing in placental mammals. These findings suggest FXI activation by FXIIa may be more important to hemostasis in primitive mammals than in placental mammals. FXI activation by thrombin places FXI partially under control of the vitamin K-dependent coagulation mechanism, reducing the importance of the KKS in blood coagulation. This would explain why humans with FXI deficiency have a bleeding abnormality, whereas those lacking components of the KKS do not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6135-6147
Number of pages13
JournalBlood Advances
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 22 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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