MKL1 and MKL2 play redundant and crucial roles in megakaryocyte maturation and platelet formation.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Blood (2012)


Serum response factor and its transcriptional cofactor MKL1 are critical for megakaryocyte maturation and platelet formation. We show that MKL2, a homologue of MKL1, is expressed in megakaryocytes and plays a role in megakaryocyte maturation. Using a megakaryocyte specific Mkl2 knockout (KO) mouse on the conventional Mkl1 KO background to produce double KO (DKO) megakaryocytes and platelets, a critical role for MKL2 is revealed. The decrease in megakaryocyte ploidy and platelet counts of DKO mice is more severe than in Mkl1 KO mice. Platelet dysfunction in DKO mice is revealed by prolonged bleeding times and ineffective platelet activation in vitro in response to ADP. Electron microscopy and immunofluorescence of DKO megakaryocytes and platelets indicate abnormal cytoskeletal and membrane organization with decreased granule complexity. Surprisingly, the DKO mice have a more extreme thrombocytopenia than mice lacking SRF expression in the megakaryocyte compartment. Comparison of gene expression reveals approximately 4400 genes whose expression is differentially affected in DKO compared to megakaryocytes deficient in SRF, strongly suggesting that MKL1 and MKL2 have both SRF-dependent and SRF-independent activity in megakaryocytopoiesis.