Counterflow centrifugal elutriation and Percoll density gradient centrifugation were employed to prepare cell populations from rat bone marrow that were selectively enriched in the cytoplasmically immature megakaryocytes and depleted of the most mature megakaryocytes. The incorporation of [14C]leucine into the platelet-specific alpha-granule protein, platelet factor 4, as well as the incorporation of [35S]sulfate into platelet proteoglycans synthesized by the maturing megakaryocytes were monitored as markers of cytoplasmic maturation. Rat platelet factor 4 was specifically isolated and characterized by its high affinity for heparin-Sepharose and its amino-terminal sequence homology to human and rabbit platelet factor 4. The [35S]sulfate-labeled proteoglycans were primarily composed of chondroitin 4-sulfate glycosaminoglycans and were identified as platelet granule components by their ability to be secreted by megakaryocytes in response to thrombin or A23187. The production of both components was increased as much as 3-fold in a dose-dependent manner by the addition of picomolar concentrations of purified megakaryocyte stimulatory factor, without a concomitant increase in general protein synthesis. The above results suggest that the megakaryocyte stimulatory factor may regulate the synthesis of platelet granule components by megakaryocytes and hence control the rate and/or extent of cytoplasmic maturation during megakaryocyte development.
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