Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

First Advisor

Dr. Sidney W. Whiteheart


Upon vascular injury, activated blood platelets fuse their granules to the plasma membrane and release cargo to regulate the vascular microenvironment, a dynamic process central to platelet function in many critical processes including hemostasis, thrombosis, immunity, wound healing, angiogenesis etc. This granule- plasma membrane fusion is mediated by a family of membrane proteins- Soluble N-ethyl maleimide Attachment Receptor Proteins(SNAREs). SNAREs that reside on vesicle (v-SNAREs) /Vesicle-Associated Membrane Proteins(VAMPs) interact with target/t-SNAREs forming a trans-bilayer complex that facilitates granule fusion. Though many components of exocytic machinery are identified, it is still not clear how it could be manipulated to prevent occlusive thrombosis without triggering bleeding. My work addresses this question by showing how the rates and extents of granule secretion could be regulated by various v-SNAREs. We also show that the granule cargo decondensation is an intermediate to secretion that also contributes to rates of cargo release.

Platelets contain four major VAMP isoforms (-2, -3, -7, and -8), however, VAMP-8 and -7 play a primary role while VAMP-2 and -3 are ancillary in secretion. To exploit this heterogeneity in VAMP usage, platelet-specific V-2/3-/- and V-2/3/8-/- mouse models were generated and characterized to understand how secretion influences hemostasis. We found that each VAMP isoform differentially contributes by altering the rates and extents of cargo release. The loss of VAMP-2 and -3 had a minimal impact while the loss of VAMP-2, -3 and -8 significantly reduced the granule secretion. Platelet activation and aggregation were not affected though the spreading was reduced in V-2/3/8-/- platelets indicating the importance of secretion in spreading. Though coagulation pathways were unaltered, PS exposure was reduced in both V-2/3-/- and V-2/3/8-/- platelets suggesting diminished procoagulant activity. In vivo experiments showed that V-2/3/8-/- animals bled profusely upon tail transaction and failed to form occlusive thrombus upon arterial injury while V-2/3-/- animals did not display any hemostatic deficiency. These data suggest that about 40-50% reduction in secretion provides protection against thrombosis without compromising hemostasis and beyond 50% secretion deficiency, the animals fail to form functional thrombi and exhibit severe bleeding. Additionally, detailed structural analysis of activated platelets suggests that the post-stimulation cargo dissolution depends on an agonist concentration and stimulation duration. This process is VAMP-dependent and represents intermediate steps leading to a full exodus of cargo. Moreover, we also show that VAMP-8 is important for compound fusion events and regulates fusion pore size.

This is a first comprehensive report that shows how manipulation of the exocytic machinery have an impact on secretion and ultimately on hemostasis. These animals will be instrumental in future investigations of platelet secretion in many other vascular processes.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)