Non-genomic activities of retinoic acid receptor alpha control actin cytoskeletal events in human platelets

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Platelets utilize proteins and pathways classically reserved for the nuclear niche.


We determined whether human platelets express retinoic-acid-receptor family members, traditionally thought of as nuclear transcription factors, and deciphered the function of RARα.


We found that RARα is robustly expressed in human platelets and megakaryocytes and interacts directly with actin-related protein-2/3 complex (Arp2/3) subunit 5 (Arp2/3s5). Arp2/3s5 co-localized with RARα in situ and regulated platelet cytoskeletal processes. The RARα ligand all-trans retinoic acid (atRA) disrupted RARα−Arp2/3 interactions. When isolated human platelets were treated with atRA, rapid cytoskeletal events (e.g. platelet spreading) were inhibited. In addition, when platelets were cultured for 18 h in the presence of atRA, actin-dependent morphological changes (e.g. extended cell body formation) were similarly inhibited. Using in vitro actin branching assays, RARα and Arp2/3-regulated complex actin branch formation was demonstrated. Consistent with inhibition of cytoskeletal processes in platelets, atRA, when added to this branching assay, resulted in dysregulated actin branching.


Our findings identify a previously unknown mechanism by which RARα regulates Arp2/3-mediated actin cytoskeletal dynamics through a non-genomic signaling pathway. These findings have broad implications in both nucleated and anucleate cells, where actin cytoskeletal events regulate cell morphology, movement and division.

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