Platelets from patients with the gray platelet syndrome have decreased recognizable alpha granules and are markedly deficient in some alpha-granule secretory proteins. Using immunocytochemical techniques with antibodies to an alpha-granule membrane protein, GMP-140, we identified the membranes of intracellular vesicles in gray platelets as alpha-granule membranes. Gray platelets contained normal amounts of GMP-140 as measured by electroimmunoassay. The activation of gray platelets with thrombin caused GMP-140 to be redistributed to the plasma membrane surface, as in normal platelets. In agreement with previous studies, an endogenously synthesized secretory protein, platelet factor 4, was undetectable in gray platelets. However, the alpha-granule proteins albumin and IgG, which are thought to be derived from endocytosis of plasma proteins into megakaryocytes, were present in substantial quantities and were secreted efficiently from gray platelets. Therefore, the fundamental defect in the gray platelet syndrome may be in the targeting of endogenously synthesized secretory proteins to developing alpha granules in megakaryocytes.
J P Rosa, J N George, D F Bainton, A T Nurden, J P Caen, R P McEver