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Nat Commun. 2012 May 22;3:852. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1838.

Microtubule and cortical forces determine platelet size during vascular platelet production.

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Hematology Division, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Megakaryocytes release large preplatelet intermediates into the sinusoidal blood vessels. Preplatelets convert into barbell-shaped proplatelets in vitro to undergo repeated abscissions that yield circulating platelets. These observations predict the presence of circular-preplatelets and barbell-proplatelets in blood, and two fundamental questions in platelet biology are what are the forces that determine barbell-proplatelet formation, and how is the final platelet size established. Here we provide insights into the terminal mechanisms of platelet production. We quantify circular-preplatelets and barbell-proplatelets in human blood in high-resolution fluorescence images, using a laser scanning cytometry assay. We demonstrate that force constraints resulting from cortical microtubule band diameter and thickness determine barbell-proplatelet formation. Finally, we provide a mathematical model for the preplatelet to barbell conversion. We conclude that platelet size is limited by microtubule bundling, elastic bending, and actin-myosin-spectrin cortex forces.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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