Joseph E. Italiano
Our laboratory studies how blood platelets, which function as the bandaids of the bloodstream, are produced from megakaryocyte precursor cells. Megakaryocytes are terminally differentiated cells that in their final hours convert into long, branched proplatelets. We have demonstrated that platelet formation follows a defined set of morphogenetic shape changes driven by forces derived from both microtubules and actin filaments. The overall goal of our research is to elucidate the cytoskeletal mechanics and signaling pathways that culminate in the formation of platelets.
Specifically, the lab uses a mouse megakaryocyte culture system to study platelet production in vitro. Our primary methods include fluorescence microscopy, molecular biology, biochemistry, electron microscopy, and knockout mice. Where possible, we attempt to study the dynamics of proteins in living megakaryocytes or reconstitute cellular process with cell extracts. Current focuses include understanding how microtubule-based forces power the elongation of proplatelets, probing how organelles are transported into platelets, establishing how the spectrin-based membrane skeleton contributes to platelet formation, and determining how actin dynamics powers the formation of platelets.
Harvard Institutes of Medicine, 7th floor, Room 732
4 Blackfan Circle
Boston, MA 02115