Homozygosity/compound heterozygosity for loss of function mutations in neurobeachin-like 2 (NBEAL2) is causative for Gray platelet syndrome (GPS; MIM #139090), characterized by thrombocytopenia and large platelets lacking α-granules and cargo. Most GPS-associated NBEAL2 mutations generate nonsense codons; frameshifts causing premature translation termination and/or changes in mRNA splicing have also been observed. Data regarding NBEAL2 protein expression in GPS patients is limited. We observed absence of NBEAL2 in platelets from GPS patients with 3 different genotypes, and reduced/truncated platelet NBEAL2 has been reported for others. GPS is commonly associated with mild bleeding, but lifethreatening bleeding has been reported in some cases. A common long-term complication in GPS patients is myelofibrosis; splenomegaly is less common but sometimes of sufficient severity to merit splenectomy. Like GPS patients, mice lacking NBEAL2 expression exhibit macrothrombocytopenia, deficiency of platelet α-granules, splenomegaly, myelofibrosis, impaired platelet function and abnormalities in megakaryocyte development. Animal studies have also reported impaired platelet function in vivo using laser injury and thrombo-inflammation models. NBEAL2 is a large gene with 54 exons, and several putative functional domains have been identified in NBEAL2, including PH (pleckstrin homology) and BEACH (beige and Chediak-Higashi) domains shared with other members of a protein family that includes LYST and LRBA, also expressed by hematopoietic cells. Potential NBEAL2-interacting proteins have recently been identified, and it is expected that current and future efforts will reveal the cellular mechanisms by which NBEAL2 facilitates platelet development and supports hemostatic function.
- Gray platelet syndrome