Arf6 controls platelet spreading and clot retraction via integrin αIIbβ3 trafficking

Yunjie Huang, Smita Joshi, Binggang Xiang, Yasunori Kanaho, Zhenyu Li, Beth A. Bouchard, Carole L. Moncman and Sidney W. Whiteheart

Key Points

  • Arf6 selectively regulates endocytic trafficking of platelet αIIbβ3.

  • Endocytosis contributes to acute platelet function.

Publisher's Note: There is an Inside Blood Commentary on this article in this issue.


Platelet and megakaryocyte endocytosis is important for loading certain granule cargo (ie, fibrinogen [Fg] and vascular endothelial growth factor); however, the mechanisms of platelet endocytosis and its functional acute effects are understudied. Adenosine 5'-diphosphate–ribosylation factor 6 (Arf6) is a small guanosine triphosphate–binding protein that regulates endocytic trafficking, especially of integrins. To study platelet endocytosis, we generated platelet-specific Arf6 knockout (KO) mice. Arf6 KO platelets had less associated Fg suggesting that Arf6 affects αIIbβ3-mediated Fg uptake and/or storage. Other cargo was unaffected. To measure Fg uptake, mice were injected with biotinylated- or fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)–labeled Fg. Platelets from the injected Arf6 KO mice showed lower accumulation of tagged Fg, suggesting an uptake defect. Ex vivo, Arf6 KO platelets were also defective in FITC-Fg uptake and storage. Immunofluorescence analysis showed initial trafficking of FITC-Fg to a Rab4-positive compartment followed by colocalization with Rab11-positive structures, suggesting that platelets contain and use both early and recycling endosomes. Resting and activated αIIbβ3 levels, as measured by flow cytometry, were unchanged; yet, Arf6 KO platelets exhibited enhanced spreading on Fg and faster clot retraction. This was not the result of alterations in αIIbβ3 signaling, because myosin light-chain phosphorylation and Rac1/RhoA activation were unaffected. Consistent with the enhanced clot retraction and spreading, Arf6 KO mice showed no deficits in tail bleeding or FeCl3-induced carotid injury assays. Our studies present the first mouse model for defining the functions of platelet endocytosis and suggest that altered integrin trafficking may affect the efficacy of platelet function.

  • Submitted May 28, 2015.
  • Accepted January 1, 2016.
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