LIM Kinase (LIMK)-1 is a member of the LIMK family of serine-threonine protein kinases that phosphorylates actin-binding protein cofilin and regulates actin cytoskeleton organization. LIMK1 is expressed in many cell types including platelets but the exact role of LIMK1 in platelet function remains unclear. To determine the role of LIMK1 in platelet activation, wild type or LIMK1 knockout mouse platelets were stimulated with platelet agonists. Platelet aggregation and granule secretion were analyzed. Integrin-dependent second wave of platelet aggregation induced by von Willebrand factor (VWF) in the presence of VWF activator botrocetin was abolished in LIMK1 knockout platelets. In contrast, platelet aggregation in response to the agonist peptide of protease-activated receptor-4 (PAR4, thrombin receptor), ADP and collagen was either not affected or enhanced in LIMK1 knockout platelets in comparison with wild type mouse platelets. Thus, LIMK appears to play an important role in platelet activation stimulated by VWF binding to its platelet receptor, glycoprotein Ib-IX complex (GPIb-IX) but had no stimulatory effect on or negatively regulate the GPIb-IX-independent platelet activation pathways mediated by PAR-4, ADP receptors and collagen receptors. To determine whether ligand binding to GPIb-IX stimulates LIMK activation and function, platelets were stimulated with VWF in the presence of either ristocetin or botrocetin, and immunoblotted with antibodies specifically recognizing phosphorylated LIMK1 (Serine 505) or cofilin (Serine 3). VWF induced phosphorylation of LIMK1 and LIMK substrate cofilin. Thus, VWF indeed stimulates LIMK1 activation and function. An important physiological role of GPIb-IX in platelets is to mediate platelet adhesion to subendothelial-bound VWF under shear stress at sites of vascular injury. To determine whether LIMK1 is important in platelet adhesion, we investigated whether LIMK1 knockout affected platelet adhesion to VWF-coated surfaces. LIMK1 knockout platelets are defective in mediating stable platelet adhesion to vWF under shear stress, suggesting that LIMK1 plays an important role in GPIb signaling and GPIb-IX-mediated integrin activation that is required for stable platelet adhesion under shear stress. Importantly, LIMK1 knockout mice showed significant delay in the formation of occlusive thrombus following FeCl3-induced carotid artery injury in comparison with wild type mice, indicating that the role of LIMK1 in GPIb-IX-mediated platelet activation is important in in vivo thrombosis. Together, our study reveals that LIMK1 plays an important role in GPIb-IX-mediated platelet activation and arterial thrombosis in vitro and in vivo.

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