Inheritance of a naturally occurring polymorphism of the human integrin β3-subunit at amino acid 33 causes a change from Leu to Pro that has been implicated as a risk factor for thrombotic complication in humans. It is unclear; however, if Pro (also known as the platelet alloantigen PlA2 form of β3) can alter integrin activation to significantly affect platelet function in vivo, since some clinical studies do not corroborate the initial findings. Since PlA2 is a frequent variant of β3 expressed on 28% of platelets from Americans the impact of this genetic variation on platelet function could have widespread clinical relevance; therefore, we developed a murine model to determine if expression of this common polymorphism of human integrin β3 can increase platelet function and lead to an increased propensity for thrombosis within a homogeneous population of mice. This model eliminates issues arising from variation in the genetic make-up, physical environment, and/or lifestyles of humans and allows for in vivo analysis not possible with human subjects. To accomplish this, cDNA encoding each form of the human β3-subunit was subcloned into an HIV type-1 lentivirus-derived vector under the transcriptional control of the human αIIb gene promoter to direct synthesis of β3 specifically to the megakaryocyte lineage. Bone marrow was isolated from β3-deficient mice and transduced with β3 virions encoding either the PlA1 or PlA2 form of human β3, and then transplanted into lethally irradiated β3-deficient littermates. Flow cytometric analysis demonstrated stable expression of the hybrid murine/human αIIbβ3 integrin complex on the surface of circulating platelets. Immunoanalysis using monoclonal antibodies and human serum that react specifically with the PlA1 or PlA2 confirmed the identity of each alloantigen of human β3. The lentivirus contained a second transgene encoding a drug-selectable marker (P140K MGMT) that was used for in vivo enrichment of transduced cells in mice treated with two regimens of cytotoxic reagents, O6-BG/BCNU. Flow cytometric analysis showed that use of drug-selection resulted in increased expression of the integrin αIIbβ3 complex to equal levels on nearly 100% of platelets using either form of human β3. Similar to platelets from normal mice, platelets expressing each PlA form of β3 could be induced to form aggregates ex vivo upon treatment with a cocktail of physiological agonists of platelet activation (adenosine diphosphate, epinephrine and the thrombin receptor activating peptide).

These results demonstrate the feasibility for targeting expression of altered forms of the human integrin β3-subunit to murine platelets and pave the way for future studies to examine and compare the effect of integrin αIIbβ3 structure on platelet function and thrombosis in vivo.

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