Coordinated rearrangements of the actin cytoskeleton are pivotal for platelet biogenesis from megakaryocytes (MKs) but also orchestrate key functions of peripheral platelets in hemostasis and thrombosis, such as granule release, the formation of filopodia and lamellipodia, or clot retraction. Along with profilin (Pfn) 1, thymosin β4 (encoded by Tmsb4x) is one of the two main G-actin sequestering proteins within cells of higher eukaryotes, and its intracellular concentration is particularly high in cells that rapidly respond to external signals by increased motility, such as platelets. Here, we analyzed constitutive Tmsb4x knockout (KO) mice to investigate the functional role of the protein in platelet production and function. Thymosin β4 deficiency resulted in a macrothrombocytopenia with only mildly increased platelet volume and an unaltered platelet life span. MK numbers in the bone marrow (BM) and spleen were unaltered, however, Tmsb4x KO MKs showed defective proplatelet formation in vitro and in vivo. Thymosin β4 deficient platelets displayed markedly decreased G-actin levels and concomitantly increased F-actin levels resulting in accelerated spreading on fibrinogen and clot retraction. Moreover, Tmsb4x KO platelets showed activation defects and an impaired immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif (ITAM) signaling downstream of the activating collagen receptor glycoprotein (GP) VI. These defects translated into impaired aggregate formation under flow, protection from occlusive arterial thrombus formation in vivo and increased tail bleeding times. In summary, these findings point to a critical role of thymosin β4 for actin dynamics during platelet biogenesis, platelet activation downstream of GPVI and thrombus stability.
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