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The function of Vitamin K is achieved through its role in a carboxylation reaction that converts glutamate (Glu) residues in prothrombin to gamma-carboxylglutamate residues (Gla). These modified residues are often found in the Gla domains of certain proteins involved in calcium binding, which are referred to as Gla proteins. Currently, there are sixteen Gla proteins known to exist in the body and these are described below.
In all cases where the function of Gla proteins is known, the proteins have been found to be essential to bodily functions. Without vitamin K, bleeding would become uncontrolled, bones would weaken (particularly after menopause) and the arteries and other soft tissues would be susceptible to calcification and atherosclerosis, particularly in diabetics and patients with chronic renal disease.