Podocalyxin (Podxl) is a type I membrane sialoprotein of the CD34 family, originally described in the epithelial glomerular cells of the kidney (podocytes) in which it plays an important function. Podxl can also be found in megakaryocytes and platelets among other extrarenal places. The surface exposure of Podxl upon platelet activation suggested it could play some physiological role. To elucidate the function of Podxl in platelets, we generated mice with restricted ablation of the podxl gene in megakaryocytes using the Cre-LoxP gene targeting methodology. Mice with Podxl-null megakaryocytes did not show any apparent phenotypical change and their rates of growth, life span and fertility did not differ from the floxed controls. However, Podxl-null mice showed prolonged bleeding time and decreased platelet aggregation in response to physiological agonists. The number, size-distribution and polyploidy of Podxl-null megakaryocytes were similar to the floxed controls. Podxl-null platelets showed normal content of surface receptors and normal activation by agonists. However, the mice bearing Podxl-null platelets showed a significant retardation in the ferric chloride-induced occlusion of the carotid artery. Moreover, acute thrombosis induced by the i.v. injection of sublethal doses of collagen and phenylephrine produced a smaller fall in the number of circulating platelets in Podxl-null mice than in control mice. In addition, perfusion of uncoagulated blood from Podxl-null mice in parallel flow chamber showed reduced adhesion of platelets and formation of aggregates under high shear stress. It is concluded that platelet Podxl is involved in the control of hemostasis acting as a platelet co-stimulator, likely due to its pro-adhesive properties.
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