Tspan18 is a novel regulator of thrombo-inflammation

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The interplay between thrombosis and inflammation, termed thrombo-inflammation, causes acute organ damage in diseases such as ischaemic stroke and venous thrombosis. We have recently identified tetraspanin Tspan18 as a novel regulator of thrombo-inflammation. The tetraspanins are a family of 33 membrane proteins in humans that regulate the trafficking, clustering, and membrane diffusion of specific partner proteins. Tspan18 partners with the store-operated Ca2+ entry channel Orai1 on endothelial cells. Orai1 appears to be expressed in all cells and is critical in health and disease. Orai1 mutations cause human immunodeficiency, resulting in chronic and often lethal infections, while Orai1-knockout mice die at around the time of birth. Orai1 is a promising drug target in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and Orai1 inhibitors are in clinical trials. The focus of this review is our work on Tspan18 and Orai1 in Tspan18-knockout mice and Tspan18-knockdown primary human endothelial cells. Orai1 trafficking to the cell surface is partially impaired in the absence of Tspan18, resulting in impaired Ca2+ signaling and impaired release of the thrombo-inflammatory mediator von Willebrand factor following endothelial stimulation. As a consequence, Tspan18-knockout mice are protected in ischemia-reperfusion and deep vein thrombosis models. We provide new evidence that Tspan18 is relatively highly expressed in endothelial cells, through the analysis of publicly available single-cell transcriptomic data. We also present new data, showing that Tspan18 is required for normal Ca2+ signaling in platelets, but the functional consequences are subtle and restricted to mildly defective platelet aggregation and spreading induced by the platelet collagen receptor GPVI. Finally, we generate structural models of human Tspan18 and Orai1 and hypothesize that Tspan18 regulates Orai1 Ca2+ channel function at the cell surface by promoting its clustering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-564
Number of pages12
JournalMedical Microbiology and Immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2020


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