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A Molecular Pyramid Scheme

  Thrombin is at the center of this process of blood coagulation. Blood coagulation begins with molecules that feel that something is wrong. For example, protein tissue factor is found on cell surfaces that are not normally in contact with blood. If the tissue is cut, the blood flows out of the blood vessels and encounters a tissue factor. Then, a signaling cascade begins, beginning with a few molecules of tissue factor and amplifying, as a pyramidal pattern, in a response large enough to deal with the whole problem. The tissue factor activates some factor VII molecules. These then activate a lot of factor X. And finally, these activate even more thrombin. Thrombin, when activated, then translates this signal into action. It retains a small piece of high protein fibrinogen, which causes it to build up into large spun lattices. These networks trap a lot of blood cells, forming the dark red saddle that blocks the damage.