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PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34449. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034449. Epub 2012 Apr 23.

Outside-in signalling generated by a constitutively activated integrin αIIbβ3 impairs proplatelet formation in human megakaryocytes.

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Division of Internal and Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.



The interaction of megakaryocytes with matrix proteins of the osteoblastic and vascular niche is essential for megakaryocyte maturation and proplatelet formation. Fibrinogen is present in the vascular niche and the fibrinogen receptor α(IIb)β(3) is abundantly expressed on megakaryocytes, however the role of the interaction between fibrinogen and α(IIb)β(3) in proplatelet formation in humans is not yet fully understood. We have recently reported a novel congenital macrothrombocytopenia associated with a heterozygous mutation of the β(3) subunit of α(IIb)β(3). The origin of thrombocytopenia in this condition remains unclear and this may represent an interesting natural model to get further insight into the role of the megakaryocyte fibrinogen receptor in megakaryopoiesis.


Patients' peripheral blood CD45+ cells in culture were differentiated into primary megakaryocytes and their maturation, spreading on different extracellular matrix proteins, and proplatelet formation were analyzed. Megakaryocyte maturation was normal but proplatelet formation was severely impaired, with tips decreased in number and larger in size than those of controls. Moreover, megakaryocyte spreading on fibrinogen was abnormal, with 50% of spread cells showing disordered actin distribution and more evident focal adhesion points than stress fibres. Integrin α(IIb)β(3) expression was reduced but the receptor was constitutively activated and a sustained, and substrate-independent, activation of proteins of the outside-in signalling was observed. In addition, platelet maturation from preplatelets was impaired.


Our data show that constitutive activation of α(IIb)β(3)-mediated outside-in signalling in human megakaryocytes negatively influences proplatelet formation, leading to macrothombocytopenia.

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