ADAP deficiency impairs megakaryocyte polarization with ectopic proplatelet release and causes microthrombocytopenia

Markus Spindler, Judith M.M. van Eeuwijk, Yvonne Schurr, Paquita Nurden, Bernhard Nieswandt, David Stegner, Annegret Reinhold and Markus Bender

Key points

  • ADAP deficiency in mice leads to microthrombocytopenia caused by a reduced platelet life span and ectopic (pro)platelet release.

  • Lack of ADAP in megakaryocytes impairs DMS polarization and podosome formation.


Bone marrow megakaryocytes (MKs) produce platelets by extending proplatelets into sinusoidal blood vessels. Defects in thrombopoiesis can lead to thrombocytopenia associated with increased bleeding tendency. Recently, the platelet disorder congenital autosomal recessive small-platelet thrombocytopenia (CARST) was described which is caused by mutations in the ADAP (Adhesion and degranulation promoting adaptor protein; synonym: FYB, SLAP130/120) gene, and characterized by microthrombocytopenia and bleeding symptoms. In this study we used constitutive ADAP-deficient mice (Adap-/-) as a model to investigate mechanisms underlying the microthrombocytopenia in CARST. We show that Adap-/- mice display several characteristics of human CARST, with moderate thrombocytopenia and smaller-sized platelets. Adap-/- platelets had a shorter life span than control platelets, and macrophage depletion, but not splenectomy, increased platelet counts in mutant mice to control levels. Whole sternum 3D confocal imaging and intravital two-photon microscopy revealed altered morphology of ADAP-deficient MKs with signs of fragmentation and ectopic release of (pro)platelet-like particles into the bone marrow compartment. In addition, cultured bone marrow-derived MKs lacking ADAP showed reduced spreading on extracellular matrix proteins as well as activation of β1 integrins, impaired podosome formation, and displayed defective polarization of the demarcation membrane system in vitro. MK-/platelet-specific ADAP deficient mice (PF4-cre) also produced less and smaller-sized platelets and released platelets ectopically. These data demonstrate that the abnormal platelet production in the mutant mice is a MK-intrinsic defect. Taken together, these results point to a so far unidentified role of ADAP in the process of MK polarization and platelet biogenesis.

  • Submitted January 23, 2018.
  • Accepted June 22, 2018.