CalDAG-GEFI is at the nexus of calcium-dependent platelet activation
The importance of the second messengers calcium (Ca(2+)) and diacylglycerol (DAG) in platelet signal transduction was established more than 30 years ago. Whereas protein kinase C (PKC) family members were discovered as the targets of DAG, little is known about the molecular identity of the main Ca(2+) sensor(s). We here identify Ca(2+) and DAG-regulated guanine nucleotide exchange factor I (CalDAG-GEFI) as a critical molecule in Ca(2+)-dependent platelet activation. CalDAG-GEFI, through activation of the small GTPase Rap1, directly triggers integrin activation and extracellular signal-regulated kinase-dependent thromboxane A(2) (TxA(2)) release. CalDAG-GEFI-dependent TxA(2) generation provides crucial feedback for PKC activation and granule release, particularly at threshold agonist concentrations. PKC/P2Y12 signaling in turn mediates a second wave of Rap1 activation, necessary for sustained platelet activation and thrombus stabilization. Our results lead to a revised model for platelet activation that establishes one molecule, CalDAG-GEFI, at the nexus of Ca(2+)-induced integrin activation, TxA(2) generation, and granule release. The preferential activation of CalDAG-GEFI over PKC downstream of phospholipase C activation, and the different kinetics of CalDAG-GEFI- and PKC/P2Y12-mediated Rap1 activation demonstrate an unexpected complexity to the platelet activation process, and they challenge the current model that DAG/PKC-dependent signaling events are crucial for the initiation of platelet adhesion.