Requirement of VPS33B, a member of the Sec1/Munc18 protein family, in megakaryocyte and platelet α-granule biogenesis

Bryan Lo, Ling Li, Paul Gissen, Hilary Christensen, Patrick J. McKiernan, Charles Ye, Mohamed Abdelhaleem, Jason A. Hayes, Michael D. Williams, David Chitayat and Walter H. A. Kahr


Bleeding problems are associated with defects in platelet α-granules, yet little is known about how these granules are formed and released. Mutations affecting VPS33B, a novel Sec1/Munc18 protein, have recently been linked to arthrogryposis, renal dysfunction, and cholestasis (ARC) syndrome. We have characterized platelets from patients with ARC syndrome and observed reduced aggregation with arachidonate and adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Structural abnormalities seen in ARC platelets included increased platelet size, a pale appearance in blood films, elevated numbers of δ-granules, and completely absent α-granules. Soluble and membrane-bound α-granule proteins were significantly decreased or undetectable in ARC platelets, suggesting that both the releasable protein pools and membrane components of α-granules were absent. The role of VPS33B in platelet granule biogenesis was evaluated by immunofluorescence microscopy in normal human megakaryocytes. VPS33B colocalized appreciably with markers of α-granules, moderately with late endosomes/lysosomes, minimally with δ-granules/lysosomes, and not with cis-Golgi complexes. VPS33B protein expression determined by immunoblotting confirmed the presence of VPS33B in control fibroblasts but not in ARC fibroblasts, and in normal megakaryocytes but not in platelets. We conclude that like other Sec1/Munc18 proteins, VPS33B is involved in intracellular vesicle trafficking, being essential for the development of platelet α-granules but not for granule secretion.

  • Submitted April 1, 2005.
  • Accepted August 2, 2005.
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