MYH9-RD mutations, R702C, D1424N and E1841K, impair MK chemotaxis from the endosteum to the vasculature, causing thrombocytopenia.
These mutations suppress chemotaxis via distinct mechanisms including defective cell-adhesion and actomyosin cytoskeleton misalignment.
Megakaryocytes (MKs), the precursor cells for platelets, migrate from the endosteal niche of the bone marrow (BM) towards the vasculature, extending proplatelets into sinusoids, where circulating blood progressively fragments them into platelets. Nonmuscle myosin II (NMIIA) heavy chain gene (MYH9) mutations cause macrothrombocytopenia characterized by fewer platelets with larger sizes leading to clotting disorders termed myosin-9 related disorders (MYH9-RD). MYH9-RD patient MKs have proplatelets with thicker and fewer branches that produce fewer and larger proplatelets, which is phenocopied in mouse Myh9-RD models. Defective proplatelet formation is considered to be the principal mechanism underlying the macrothrombocytopenia phenotype. However, MYH9-RD patient MKs may have other defects, as NMII interactions with actin filaments regulate physiological processes including chemotaxis, cell migration and adhesion. How MYH9-RD mutations affect MK migration and adhesion in BM, or NMIIA activity and assembly prior to proplatelet production, remain unanswered. NMIIA is the only NMII isoform expressed in mature MKs, permitting exploration of these questions without complicating effects of other NMII isoforms. Using mouse-models of MYH9-RD (NMIIAR702C+/-GFP+/-, NMIIAD1424N+/- and NMIIAE1841K+/-) and in-vitro assays, we investigated MK distribution in BM, chemotaxis towards stromal-derived factor (SDF)-1, NMIIA activity and bipolar filament assembly. Results indicate that different MYH9-RD mutations suppressed MK migration in the BM, without compromising bipolar filament formation, but led to divergent adhesion phenotypes and NMIIA contractile activities, depending on the mutation. We conclude that MYH9-RD mutations impair MK chemotaxis by multiple mechanisms to disrupt migration towards the vasculature, impairing proplatelet release and causing macrothrombocytopenia.