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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1987 Feb;84(3):861-5.

Incorporation of a circulating protein into megakaryocyte and platelet granules.


To determine whether or not proteins circulating in plasma can be incorporated into megakaryocytes and platelets, horseradish peroxidase (HRP) was injected intravenously into guinea pigs and these cells were examined for its uptake by electron microscopy and cytochemistry. Enriched samples of megakaryocytes enabled ultrastructural analysis of large numbers of these rare cells. In megakaryocytes, 50% of alpha granules contained HRP between 75 min and 7 hr after injection. At 24 hr, 25% of the megakaryocyte granules were peroxidase-positive, less were positive by 48 hr, and there were none at 4 days. Thus, the findings demonstrate that a circulating protein can be endocytosed by megakaryocytes and rapidly packaged into alpha granules. Platelet granules also contain HRP by 7 hr after injection, and they can secrete it in response to thrombin. Unfortunately, our present studies do not allow us to distinguish between direct endocytosis by the platelet and/or shedding of new platelets from recently labeled megakaryocytes. It is concluded that while some alpha granule proteins are synthesized by megakaryocytes, others may be acquired from plasma by endocytosis. In addition to providing evidence that some of the proteins of alpha granules may be of exogenous origin, this study has allowed the definition of a pathway whereby plasma proteins may be temporarily sequestered in megakaryocytes before reentering the circulation in platelets.

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