Platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1/CD31) is a 130K transmembrane glycoprotein that belongs to the immunoglobulin gene superfamily and is expressed on the surface of hematological or vascular cells, including platelets and endothelial cells. Although the importance of this adhesion molecule in various cell-cell interactions is established, its function in platelets remains ill-defined. In the process of clarifying the mechanism by which the lectin wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) activates platelets, we unexpectedly discovered that PECAM-1 is involved in signal transduction pathways elicited by this N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (NAGlu)-reactive lectin. WGA, which is a very potent platelet stimulator, elicited a rapid surge in Syk and phospholipase C (PLC)-gamma 2 tyrosine phosphorylation and the resultant intracellular Ca(2+) mobilization; collagen, as reported, induced these responses, but in a much slower and weaker manner. WGA strongly induced tyrosine phosphorylation of a 130-140K protein, which was confirmed to be PECAM-1 by immunoprecipitation and immunodepletion studies. WGA-induced PECAM-1 tyrosine phosphorylation occurred rapidly, strongly and in a manner independent of platelet aggregation or cell-cell contact; these characteristics of PECAM-1 phosphorylation were not mimicked at all by receptor-mediated platelet agonists. In addition, WGA was found to associate with PECAM-1 itself, and anti-PECAM-1 antibody, as well as NAGlu, specifically inhibited WGA-induced platelet aggregation. In PECAM-1 immunoprecipitates, Src family tyrosine kinases existed, and a kinase activity was detected, which increased upon WGA stimulation. Furthermore, the Src family kinase inhibitor PP2 inhibited WGA-induced platelet aggregation, Ca(2+) mobilization, and PLC-gamma 2 tyrosine phosphorylation. Finally, WGA induced PECAM-1 tyrosine phosphorylation and cytoskeletal reorganization in vascular endothelial cells. Our results suggest that (i) PECAM-1 is involved in WGA-induced platelet activation, (ii) PECAM-1 clustering by WGA activates unique and strong platelet signaling pathways, leading to a rapid PLC activation via Src family kinases, and (iii) WGA is a useful tool for elucidating PECAM-1-mediated signaling with wide implications not confined to platelets.