Adhesive receptors, extracellular proteins and myosin IIA orchestrate proplatelet formation by human megakaryocytes


Mauro Torti, Department of Biochemistry, University of Pavia, via Bassi 21, 27100 Pavia, Italy.
Tel.: +39 0382 987238; fax: +39 0382 987240.


Summary. Background: Megakaryocytes release platelets from the tips of cytoplasmic extensions, called proplatelets. In humans, the regulation of this process is still poorly characterized. Objective: To analyse the regulation of proplatelet formation by megakaryocyte adhesion to extracellular adhesive proteins through different membrane receptors. Methods: Human megakaryocytes were obtained by differentiation of cord blood-derived CD34+ cells, and proplatelet formation was evaluated by phase contrast and fluorescence microscopy. Results: We found that human megakaryocytes extended proplatelets in a time-dependent manner. Adhesion to fibrinogen, fibronectin or von Willebrand factor (VWF) anticipated the development of proplatelets, but dramatically limited both amplitude and duration of the process. Type I, but not type III or type IV, collagen totally suppressed proplatelet extension, and this effect was overcome by the myosin IIA antagonist blebbistatin. Integrin αIIbβ3 was essential for megakaryocyte spreading on fibrinogen or VWF, but was not required for proplatelet formation. In contrast, proplatelet formation was prevented by blockade of GPIb-IX-V, or upon cleavage of GPIbα by the metalloproteinase mocarhagin. Membrane-associated VWF was detected exclusively on proplatelet-forming megakaryocytes, but not on round mature cells that do not extend proplatelets. Conclusions: Our findings show that proplatelet formation in human megakaryocytes undergoes a complex spatio-temporal regulation orchestrated by adhesive proteins, GPIb-IX-V and myosin IIA.