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J Cell Physiol. 2003 Feb;194(2):206-14.

SNARE protein degradation upon platelet activation: calpain cleaves SNAP-23.

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  • 1Center for Hemostasis and Thrombosis Research, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


In order to better understand the molecular mechanisms of platelet granule secretion, we evaluated the effect of activation-induced degranulation on three functional platelet SNARE proteins, SNAP-23, VAMP-3, and syntaxin 4. Initial studies showed that SNAP-23 is lost upon SFLLRN-induced platelet activation. Experiments with permeabilized platelets demonstrated that proteolysis of SNAP-23 was Ca(2+)-dependent. Ca(2+)-dependent proteolysis of SNAP-23 was inhibited by the cell-permeable calpain inhibitors, calpeptin and E-64d, as well as by the naturally occurring calpain inhibitor, calpastatin. In addition, purified calpain cleaved SNAP-23 in permeabilized platelets in a dose-dependent manner. In intact platelets, calpeptin prevented SFLLRN-induced degradation of SNAP-23. In contrast, calpeptin did not prevent SFLLRN-induced degradation of VAMP-3 and syntaxin 4 did not undergo substantial proteolysis following platelet activation. Calpain-induced cleavage of SNAP-23 was a late event occurring between 2.5 and 5 min following exposure of permeabilized platelets to Ca(2+). Experiments evaluating platelet alpha-granule secretion demonstrated that incubation of permeabilized platelets with 10 microM Ca(2+) prior to exposure to ATP inhibited ATP-dependent alpha-granule secretion from permeabilized platelets. SNAP-23 was cleaved under these conditions. Incubation of permeabilized platelets with either calpeptin or calpastatin prevented Ca(2+)-mediated degradation of SNAP-23 and reversed Ca(2+)-mediated inhibition of ATP-dependent alpha-granule secretion. Thus, activation of calpain prior to secretion results in loss of SNAP-23 and inhibits alpha-granule secretion. These studies suggest a mechanism whereby calpain activation serves to localize platelet secretion to areas of thrombus formation.

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