Platelet activation at the site of injury is promoted by agonist-induced inside-out and integrin αIIbβ3-initiated outside-in signaling. Our understanding of the agonist and integrin mediated signaling pathways has largely been driven by studies that have examined the role of protein kinases. As models of signal transduction have been refined to include protein phosphorylation and protein dephosphorylation events, the contribution of the protein phosphatases to platelet signaling and function have garnered fresh attention. This is particularly evident for the catalytic subunit of serine/threonine protein phosphatase 1 (PP1c), wherein, its role in platelet biology has been previously assessed with pharmacological agents like calyculin A and okadaic acid. Although such chemical inhibitors represent a useful tool, it lacks specificity to discriminate the different isoforms of PP1c. PP1cα represents a major platelet expressed isoform and its contribution to platelet function is not known. To explore the potential role of PP1cα isoform in platelet signaling, we generated a platelet specific PP1cα -/- mice by crossing the PP1cα floxed mice with a platelet factor 4 (PF4) cre mice. Immunoblotting studies from PP1cα -/- mice confirmed that PP1cα was lost in platelets but not in lymphocytes. A compensatory upregulation of the PP1cβ but not PP1cγ1 isoform was noticed in PP1cα -/- platelets. Loss of PP1cα decreased platelet aggregation and soluble fibrinogen binding to low dose thrombin, thromboxane analog and convulxin, suggesting that PP1cα promotes agonist-induced inside-out signaling. In contrast, PP1cα -/- platelets displayed enhanced adhesiveness to immobilized fibrinogen and increased fibrin clot retraction, processes that are dependent on integrin-mediated outside-in signaling. In a microfluidic perfusion system, whole blood from PP1cα -/- mice displayed increased thrombus formation on collagen. p38 mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) was activated in PP1cα -/- platelets, and p38 inhibitor blocked the increased integrin-mediated PP1cα -/- platelet functions. These observations suggest that PP1cα suppress integrin-mediated function in part by decreasing the activation of p38 MAPK. Thus, unlike the conclusion gathered from generic phosphatase inhibitors that PP1c promotes platelet function, our studies using a genetic approach indicate that PP1cα contributes to platelet signaling in a fashion that is specific to the mode of signaling. Specifically, PP1cα promotes platelet agonist-induced inside-out signaling and suppress integrin-mediated outside-in signaling. This observation suggests that chemical activators of PP1cα isoform could serve as a potential antithrombotic agent.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.