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Haemostasis. 1999 Sep;29(1):4-15.

Platelet signal transduction pathways: could we organize them into a 'hierarchy'?

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INSERM U348, IFR 'Circulation Lariboisière', Hôpital Lariboisière, Paris, France.


Platelet activation results in shape change, release of granule contents, aggregation and clot retraction. An intense intracellular 'machinery' is engaged to achieve these functions. Thrombin is one of the most important agonists for platelet recruitment and aggregation which is mediated by the binding of fibrinogen to its adhesive receptor: the glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa complex or integrin alphaIIbbeta(3). The numerous biological processes consecutive to thrombin binding to platelet membrane are mainly controlled by phosphorylation mechanisms organized into signalling pathways. Schematically, the phospholipase Cbeta pathway activated by G protein coupled to the seven transmembrane thrombin receptors, provides the first intracellular relay and would generate regulators such as protein kinase C, phosphorylated pleckstrin but also modifications of the intracellular domain of beta(3). This inside-out signalling would lead to some changes in the extracellular domain of GPIIb/IIIa increasing access of fibrinogen to the receptor. Ligand interaction with GPIIb/IIIa induced reorganization of the cytoskeleton and would mediate the outside-in signals which involve a series of intracellular events including tyrosine kinases, phosphatidylinositol 3 kinases, MAP kinases and phosphatases. Some of these pathways and/or signalling metabolites could be associated to some well-characterized platelet functions: cortactin phosphorylation is involved in platelet shape change, phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase (p85) in the stabilisation of platelet aggregates and MAP kinase (p44) in postaggregation events. But in fact the sequence of events which has been described has to be viewed as integrated networks. At least three biochemical processes govern the highly integrated organization to send just the appropriate quanta of signal for a specific need: the reorganisation of the cytoskeleton following the binding of fibrinogen to alphaIIbbeta(3), the structure of the signal transducers that contain SH2, SH3, and PH domains leading to the formation of macromolecules of signalling and the crosstalk phenomena between the different pathways. Elucidating the mechanisms of such networks becomes an increasingly exciting project.

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