Activated α IIb β 3 on platelets mediates flow-dependent NETosis via SLC44A2

Elife. 2020 Apr 21;9:e53353. doi: 10.7554/eLife.53353.


Platelet-neutrophil interactions are important for innate immunity, but also contribute to the pathogenesis of deep vein thrombosis, myocardial infarction and stroke. Here we report that, under flow, von Willebrand factor/glycoprotein Ibα-dependent platelet 'priming' induces integrin αIIbβ3 activation that, in turn, mediates neutrophil and T-cell binding. Binding of platelet αIIbβ3 to SLC44A2 on neutrophils leads to mechanosensitive-dependent production of highly prothrombotic neutrophil extracellular traps. A polymorphism in SLC44A2 (rs2288904-A) present in 22% of the population causes an R154Q substitution in an extracellular loop of SLC44A2 that is protective against venous thrombosis results in severely impaired binding to both activated αIIbβ3 and VWF-primed platelets. This was confirmed using neutrophils homozygous for the SLC44A2 R154Q polymorphism. Taken together, these data reveal a previously unreported mode of platelet-neutrophil crosstalk, mechanosensitive NET production, and provide mechanistic insight into the protective effect of the SLC44A2 rs2288904-A polymorphism in venous thrombosis.

Keywords: NETosis; SLC44A2; VWF; cell biology; human; human biology; medicine; neutrophil; platelet; αiibβ3.

Plain Language Summary

Platelets in our blood form clots over sites of injury to stop us from bleeding. Blood clots can also occur in places where they are not needed, such as deep veins in our legs or other regions of the body. Developing such clots – also known as deep vein thrombosis (or DVT for short) – is one of the most common cardiovascular diseases and a major cause of death. Although certain inherited factors have been linked to DVT, the underlying mechanisms of the disease remain poorly understood. In addition to platelets, the pathological (or dangerous) clots that cause DVT also contain immune cells called neutrophils which fight off bacterial infections. Platelets are recruited to the wall of the vein by a protein called “von Willebrand Factor” (or VWF for short). However, it remained unclear how these recruited platelets interact with neutrophils and whether this promotes the onset of DVT. To answer this question, Constantinescu-Bercu et al. used a device that mimics the flow of blood to study how human platelets change when they are exposed to VWF. This revealed that VWF ‘primes’ the platelets to interact with neutrophils via a protein called integrin αIIbβ3. Further experiments showed that integrin αIIbβ3 binds to a protein on the surface of neutrophils called SLC44A2. Once the neutrophils interacted with the ‘primed’ platelets, they started making traps which increased the size of the blood clot by capturing other blood cells and proteins. Finally, Constantinescu-Bercu et al. studied a genetic variant of the SLC44A2 protein which is found in 22% of people and is associated with a lower risk of developing DVT. This genetic mutation caused SLC44A2 to interact with ‘primed’ platelets more weakly, which may explain why people with this genetic variant are protected from getting DVT. These findings suggest that blocking the interaction between ‘primed’ platelets and neutrophils could reduce the risk of DVT. Although current treatments for DVT can prevent patients from forming dangerous blood clots, they can also cause severe bleeding. Since neutrophils are not crucial for normal blood clots to form at the site of injury, drugs targeting SLC44A2 could inhibit inappropriate clotting without causing excess bleeding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets / metabolism
  • Extracellular Traps / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Platelet Activation / physiology*
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex / metabolism*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Venous Thrombosis* / genetics
  • Venous Thrombosis* / metabolism


  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex
  • SLC44A2 protein, human