Platelets: covert regulators of lymphatic development

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2010 Dec;30(12):2368-71. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.110.217281. Epub 2010 Nov 11.


The field of platelet biology has rapidly expanded beyond the classical role of platelets in preventing blood loss and orchestrating clot formation. Despite the lack of transcriptional ability of these anuclear cell fragments, platelet function is now thought to encompass such diverse contexts as tissue repair, immune activation, primary tumor formation, and metastasis. Recent studies from multiple groups have turned the spotlight on an exciting new role for platelets in the formation of lymphatic vessels during embryonic development. Genetic experiments demonstrate that podoplanin, a transmembrane protein expressed on lymphatic endothelial cells, engages the platelet C-type lectin-like receptor 2 (CLEC-2) when exposed to blood, leading to SYK-SLP-76-dependent platelet activation. When components of this pathway are disrupted, aberrant vascular connections form, resulting in blood-lymphatic mixing. Furthermore, platelet-null embryos manifest identical blood-lymphatic mixing. The identification of platelets as the critical cell type mediating blood-lymphatic vascular separation raises new questions in our understanding of lymphatic development and platelet biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Lectins, C-Type / metabolism
  • Lymphangiogenesis*
  • Lymphatic Vessels / embryology
  • Lymphatic Vessels / metabolism*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Platelet Activation
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Syk Kinase


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • CLEC-2 protein, mouse
  • Gp38 protein, mouse
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • SLP-76 signal Transducing adaptor proteins
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • SYK protein, human
  • Syk Kinase
  • Syk protein, mouse