RhoA plays a multifaceted role in platelet biology. During platelet development, RhoA has been proposed to regulate endomitosis, proplatelet formation, and platelet release, in addition to having a role in platelet activation. These processes were previously studied using pharmacological inhibitors in vitro, which have potential drawbacks, such as non-specific inhibition or incomplete disruption of the intended target proteins. Therefore, we developed a conditional knockout mouse model utilizing the CRE-LOX strategy to ablate RhoA, specifically in megakaryocytes and in platelets to determine its role in platelet development. We demonstrated that deleting RhoA in megakaryocytes in vivo resulted in significant macrothrombocytopenia. RhoA-null megakaryocytes were larger, had higher mean ploidy, and exhibited stiff membranes with micropipette aspiration. However, in contrast to the results observed in experiments relying upon pharmacologic inhibitors, we did not observe any defects in proplatelet formation in megakaryocytes lacking RhoA. Infused RhoA-null megakaryocytes rapidly released platelets, but platelet levels rapidly plummeted within several hours. Our evidence supports the hypothesis that changes in membrane rheology caused infused RhoA-null megakaryocytes to prematurely release aberrant platelets that were unstable. These platelets were cleared quickly from circulation, which led to the macrothrombocytopenia. These observations demonstrate that RhoA is critical for maintaining normal megakaryocyte development and the production of normal platelets. © 2013 Suzuki et al.
Suzuki, A., Shin, J. W., Wang, Y., Min, S. H., Poncz, M., Choi, J. K., … Abrams, C. S. (2013). RhoA Is Essential for Maintaining Normal Megakaryocyte Ploidy and Platelet Generation. PLoS ONE, 8(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0069315