Background: Glanzmann thrombasthenia (GT) is a moderate to severe inherited bleeding syndrome associating a lack of platelet aggregation with quantitative or qualitative deficiencies of the αIIbβ3 integrin. Rare patients with mutations in ITGA2B or ITGB3 genes show a variable GT-like phenotype associated with macrothrombocytopenia (MTP). Gain-of-function mutations that localize to the integrin cytoplasmic domains cause autosomal dominant MTP. We now report a novel heterozygous ΔLeu in ITGB3 causing a structural modification of the cytoplasmic domain of β3 in a family with moderate MTP. In silico modeling was performed to obtain structural insights into this and other known mutations affecting cytoplasmic domains of αIIb and β3 and impacting megakaryopoiesis.

Aim: To help define structural changes in αIIbβ3 linked to MTP.

Results: A novel in-frame heterozygous 3bp deletion (c.2230_2232delCTC) was identified by exome sequencing performed as part of the BRIDGE-BPD consortium project in a French pedigree with lifelong mucocutaneous bleeding. The consequence is the loss of β3 Leu718 (ΔL718) the second L of a LLITIHD motif of the mature protein (nomenclature used throughout). Platelets of the proband have (i) moderate expression of αIIbβ3, (ii) a major reduction in fibrinogen (Fg) and PAC-1 binding after ADP stimulation yet (iii) spontaneous Fg or PAC-1 binding to platelets was not seen. Western blotting showed a slightly slower migration of β3 and normal αIIb. The proband had a moderate MTP with platelet size heterogeneity and frequent enlarged α-granules regrouping several of normal size with Fg bound to the membrane of the α-granules as revealed by immunogold staining and electron microscopy. Platelet aggregation was much reduced with all physiologic agonists including TRAP with a reduced surface expression of P-selectin and diminished secretion. The same 3bp del in ITGB3 co-segregates with the platelet phenotype and bleeding across 3 generations in the family. We then performed molecular modeling (PyMol Molecular Graphics System version 1.3) to compare the structural effects of this mutation on αIIbβ3 with other cytoplasmic tail mutations described in the literature giving GT-like phenotypes and/or MTP. Firstly αIIb-R995Q/W or β3-D723H were confirmed to disrupt a salt bridge between the integrin subunits and induce the separation of their tails. PyMol modeling showed that the DL718 results in D723 being no longer in phase with R995 thereby disrupting the salt bridge. Significantly, introduction of a β-turn by an activating β3 L718P substitution again results in the spontaneous separation of the tails, once more through a conformational change of the mutated β3. In contrast, a previously reported ITGB3 C2268T variant resulting in Arg724*, a truncation coming after the deletion in our patient, or a β3 S752P substitution that completely blocks platelet aggregation and PAC-1 binding (and specific loss of kindlin-3 binding) despite a capacity to secrete a storage pool of Fg bound α-granule αIIbβ3 failed to give MTP despite resulting in a GT-like syndrome.

Conclusions: The novel ITGB3 ΔL718 of β3 showed an intermediate phenotype with MTP, a much decreased platelet aggregation, a reduced activity of αIIbβ3 at the platelet surface but a progressive fusion of α-granules. This is despite the theoretical retention of the talin and kindlin-3 binding sites suggesting that transmembrane signaling is the principle defect. Our studies highlight how considerable phenotypic heterogeneity exists in patients with genetic variants affecting αIIb and β3 cytoplasmic domains and suggest different signaling mechanisms for surface and intracellular αIIbβ3 pools.

*PN and ET; WHO and ATN made equal contributions,

On behalf of the BRIDGE-Bleeding and Platelet Disorder Consortium


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.