We have previously shown that ADP-induced thromboxane A2 generation in platelets requires co-ordinated signaling events from the Gq-coupled P2Y1 receptor and the Gi-coupled P2Y12 receptor in addition to outside-in signaling. It is also known that ADP-induced thromboxane A2 generation is completely abolished in the presence of extracellular calcium, but the mechanism of this negative regulation is not known. In this study we sought to identify the important signaling molecules in ADP-induced thromboxane A2 generation in platelets and characterize the regulation of these molecules by extracellular calcium. Erk2 activation occurred when outside-in signaling was blocked, indicating that it is a downstream event from the P2Y receptors. However, blockade of either P2Y1 or the P2Y12 receptors with corresponding antagonists completely abolished Erk phosphorylation, indicating that both P2Y receptors are required for ADP-induced Erk activation. However, blockade of Erk upstream kinase MEK had not effect on ADP-induced aggregation in aspirin-treated platelets, but dramatically inhibited aggregation as well as secretion in non-aspirinated platelets, suggesting that Erk might be important for thromboxane A2 generation. Finally, PP1 and PP2, inhibitors of Src family kinases, but not PP3, an inactive analog, abolished ADP-induced Erk phosphorylation and thromboxane A2 generation. Interestingly, ADP-induced Erk phosphorylation was completely inhibited in the presence of extracellular calcium, indicating that Erk is a key signaling molecule regulated by extracellular calcium in the negative regulation of thromboxane A2 generation. We conclude that Erk2 is activated downstream of P2Y receptors through a complex mechanism involving Src kinases and plays an important role in ADP-induced thromboxane A2 generation. We also conclude that extracellular calcium blocks ADP-induced thromboxane A2 generation through the inhibition of Erk activation.

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