The primary physiological function of blood platelets is to seal vascular lesions after injury and form hemostatic thrombi in order to prevent blood loss. This task relies on the formation of strong cellular-extracellular matrix interactions in the subendothelial lesions. The cytoskeleton of a platelet is key to all of its functions: its ability to spread, adhere and contract. Despite the medical significance of platelets, there is still no high-resolution structural information of their cytoskeleton. Here, we discuss and present 3-dimensional (3D) structural analysis of intact platelets by using cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Cryo-ET provides in situ structural analysis and AFM gives stiffness maps of the platelets. In the future, combining high-resolution structural and mechanical techniques will bring new understanding of how structural changes modulate platelet stiffness during activation and adhesion.
- atomic force microscopy
- cryo-electron tomography