Compartmentalized megakaryocyte death generates functional platelets committed to caspase-independent death

Murray C H Clarke, John Savill, David B. Jones, Brendon S Noble, Simon B Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Caspase-directed apoptosis usually fragments cells, releasing nonfunctional, prothrombogenic, membrane-bound apoptotic bodies marked for rapid engulfment by macrophages. Blood platelets are functional anucleate cells generated by specialized fragmentation of their progenitors, megakaryocytes (MKs), but committed to a constitutive caspase-independent death. Constitutive formation of the proplatelet-bearing MK was recently reported to be caspase-dependent, apparently involving mitochondrial release of cytochrome c, a known pro-apoptogenic factor. We extend those studies and report that activation of caspases in MKs, either constitutively or after Fas ligation, yields platelets that are functionally responsive and evade immediate phagocytic clearance, and retain mitochondrial transmembrane potential until constitutive platelet death ensues. Furthermore, the exclusion from the platelet progeny of caspase-9 present in the progenitor accounts for failure of mitochondrial release of cytochrome c to activate caspase-3 during platelet death. Thus, progenitor cell death by apoptosis can result in birth of multiple functional anucleate daughter cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-87
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2003


  • Fas
  • Caspases
  • Thrombopoiesis


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