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Reviewed February 2008

What is the official name of the VWF gene?

The official name of this gene is “von Willebrand factor.”

VWF is the gene's official symbol. The VWF gene is also known by other names, listed below.

What is the normal function of the VWF gene?

The VWF gene provides instructions for making a blood clotting protein called von Willebrand factor. This protein contains regions that attach (bind) to specific cells and proteins during the formation of a blood clot. After an injury, clots protect the body by sealing off damaged blood vessels and preventing further blood loss.

Von Willebrand factor is made within endothelial cells, which line the inside surface of blood vessels, and bone marrow cells. The factor is made of several identical subunits. To facilitate binding to various cells and proteins, these subunits are cut into smaller pieces by an enzyme called ADAMTS13. Von Willebrand factor helps platelets stick together and adhere to the walls of blood vessels at the site of a wound. These groups of platelets form temporary clots, plugging holes in blood vessel walls to help stop bleeding. Von Willebrand factor also carries another blood clotting protein, coagulation factor VIII, to the area of clot formation.

How are changes in the VWF gene related to health conditions?

von Willebrand disease - caused by mutations in the VWF gene

More than 300 mutations in the VWF gene have been found to cause von Willebrand disease. Mutations in the VWF gene that reduce the amount of von Willebrand factor cause type 1 von Willebrand disease. People with type 1 von Willebrand disease have von Willebrand factor in their bloodstream, but at reduced amounts. Mutations that disrupt the function of the von Willebrand factor cause the four subtypes of type 2 von Willebrand disease. These mutations usually change one of the protein building blocks (amino acids) used to make von Willebrand factor, which can disrupt the factor's ability to bind to various cells and proteins needed to form a blood clot. Mutations that result in an abnormally short, nonfunctional von Willebrand factor generally cause the more severe type 3 von Willebrand disease. A reduction in the amount of von Willebrand factor or problems with its function slows the formation of blood clots, which causes the prolonged bleeding episodes seen in von Willebrand disease.

Where is the VWF gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 12p13.3

Molecular Location on chromosome 12: base pairs 5,928,300 to 6,104,096

The VWF gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 12 at position 13.3.

The VWF gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 12 at position 13.3.

More precisely, the VWF gene is located from base pair 5,928,300 to base pair 6,104,096 on chromosome 12.

See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about VWF?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about VWF helpful.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for the VWF gene or gene products?

  • coagulation factor VIII VWF
  • F8VWF
  • VWD

Where can I find general information about genes?

The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.

These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.

What glossary definitions help with understanding VWF?

acids ; amino acid ; blood clotting ; bone marrow ; cell ; clotting ; coagulation ; coagulation factors ; endothelial cells ; enzyme ; gene ; injury ; mutation ; platelets ; protein ; subunit ; von Willebrand factor ; VWF

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

References (6 links)


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Reviewed: February 2008
Published: January 23, 2009