Although mammalian platelets are anucleated cells, a number of studies have shown that they retain a pool of messenger RNA (mRNA) carried over from the megakaryocyte during thrombopoiesis. Platelet mRNA was originally thought to be relatively unstable and short-lived within the youngest cells and has been used as a potential marker of platelet turnover. In this article we will discuss both theoretical and methodological issues related to the measurement of these younger, "reticulated platelets". A key question relating to platelet mRNA is also whether it has any functional relevance other than a marker of platelet immaturity. Evidence going back more than 30 years suggests that platelets can biosynthesize proteins. However, it is only very recently that the nature and specificity of platelet mRNA has been examined in any detail. Difficulties in obtaining pure platelet mRNA, free of contamination from other cells has added to the complexity of unravelling this story. However, there is now clear evidence that platelets contain small but significant levels of message for a variety of proteins. The platelet mRNA pool is much richer and more diverse than previously thought and recent data suggests that regulated synthesis of a selected number of proteins can be induced on platelet activation. The full complexity of the platelet genome is now just being revealed and may open the possibility for improved diagnosis and therapy of many haemostatic and thrombotic disorders.
- Blood Platelets
- RNA, Messenger