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Keywords:

  • dynein;
  • kinesin;
  • megakaryocyte;
  • microtubules;
  • platelet;
  • proplatelet

Summary.  The cellular and molecular basis of the intricate process by which megakaryocytes (MKs) form and release platelets remains poorly understood. Work has shown that proplatelets, long cytoplasmic extensions made by mature MKs, are essential intermediates in platelet biogenesis. Microtubules are the main structural component of proplatelets and it is microtubule sliding, driven by dynein motors within cortical bundles, which elongates and thins proplatelets. Kinesin motors carry their cargo of platelet-specific granules and organelles into the proplatelets using the microtubule bundles as tracks. Extension of proplatelets is associated with repeated actin-dependent bending and bifurcation, which results in considerable amplification of free proplatelet ends. Large proplatelets, dissociated from the residual MK cell body, have the capacity to mature platelets. Only the ends of proplatelets form marginal microtubule coils similar to that observed in mature platelets, demonstrating that platelet formation completes primarily at proplatelet ends. Understanding the molecular basis of platelet formation requires detailed knowledge of how the MK microtubule machinery interacts to generate proplatelets and release platelets.