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Keywords:

  • calcium;
  • connexins;
  • ion channels;
  • ionotropic glutamate receptors;
  • K+ channels;
  • megakaryocytes;
  • membrane potential;
  • Orai1;
  • P2X1;
  • platelets

Summary.  Ion channels are transmembrane proteins that play ubiquitous roles in cellular homeostasis and activation. In addition to their recognized role in the regulation of ionic permeability and thus membrane potential, some channel proteins possess intrinsic kinase activity, directly interact with integrins or are permeable to molecules up to ≈1000 Da. The small size and anuclear nature of the platelet has often hindered progress in understanding the role of specific ion channels in hemostasis, thrombosis and other platelet-dependent events. However, with the aid of transgenic mice and ‘surrogate’ patch clamp recordings from primary megakaryocytes, important unique contributions to platelet function have been identified for several classes of ion channel. Examples include ATP-gated P2X1 channels, Orai1 store-operated Ca2+ channels, voltage-gated Kv1.3 channels, AMPA and kainate glutamate receptors and connexin gap junction channels. Furthermore, evidence exists that some ion channels, such as NMDA glutamate receptors, contribute to megakaryocyte development. This review examines the evidence for expression of a range of ion channels in the platelet and its progenitor cell, and highlights the distinct roles that these proteins may play in health and disease.