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Cell. 2003 Dec 26;115(7):851-62.

Serotonylation of small GTPases is a signal transduction pathway that triggers platelet alpha-granule release.

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Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics, Ihnestrasse 73, D-14195 Berlin, Germany.


Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. In the periphery, serotonin functions as a ubiquitous hormone involved in vasoconstriction and platelet function. Serotonin is synthesized independently in peripheral tissues and neurons by two different rate-limiting tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) isoenzymes. Here, we show that mice selectively deficient in peripheral TPH and serotonin exhibit impaired hemostasis, resulting in a reduced risk of thrombosis and thromboembolism, although the ultrastructure of the platelets is not affected. While the aggregation of serotonin-deficient platelets in vitro is apparently normal, their adhesion in vivo is reduced due to a blunted secretion of adhesive alpha-granular proteins. In elucidating the mechanism further, we demonstrate that serotonin is transamidated to small GTPases by transglutaminases during activation and aggregation of platelets, rendering these GTPases constitutively active. Our data provides evidence for a receptor-independent signaling mechanism, termed herein as "serotonylation," which leads to alpha-granule exocytosis from platelets.

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