Key Points

  • Immune abnormalities are over-represented in GPS, including autoimmune diseases, positive autoantibodies, and reduced leukocyte counts.

  • In GPS, multiple types of blood cells are deficient in granule proteins and the plasma proteome has a pro-inflammatory profile.

Gray platelet syndrome (GPS) is a rare recessive disorder caused by biallelic variants in NBEAL2 and characterized by bleeding symptoms, the absence of platelet ɑ-granules, splenomegaly and bone marrow (BM) fibrosis. Due to its rarity, it has been difficult to fully understand the pathogenic processes that lead to these clinical sequelae. To discern the spectrum of pathological features, we performed a detailed clinical genotypic and phenotypic study of 47 GPS patients. We identified 32 new etiological variants in NBEAL2. Our GPS patient cohort exhibited known phenotypes, including macrothrombocytopenia, BM fibrosis, megakaryocyte emperipolesis of neutrophils, splenomegaly, and elevated serum vitamin B12 levels. We also observed novel clinical phenotypes; these include reduced leukocyte counts and increased presence of autoimmune disease and positive autoantibodies. There were widespread differences in the transcriptome and proteome of GPS platelets, neutrophils, monocytes, and CD4-lymphocytes. Proteins less abundant in these cells were enriched for constituents of granules, supporting a role for Nbeal2 in the function of these organelles across a wide range of blood cells. Proteomic analysis of GPS plasma showed increased levels of proteins associated with inflammation and immune response. One quarter of plasma proteins increased in GPS are known to be synthesized outside of hematopoietic cells, predominantly in the liver. In summary, our data demonstrate that, in addition to the well-described platelet defects in GPS, there are also immune defects. The abnormal immune cells may be the drivers of systemic abnormalities, such as autoimmune disease.

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