Endomucin is a recently identified sialomucin that is specifically expressed on endothelium of the adult mouse. Here, we have analysed the expression of endomucin during development of the vascular system by immunohistochemistry by using three monoclonal antibodies (mAb). We demonstrate that two of the mAb, V.5C7 and V.1A7, recognize epitopes on the nonglycosylated protein, because they recognize the antigen when it is synthesized as a bacterial fusion protein and when it is in vitro translated in a membrane-free reticulocyte lysate. During in vitro differentiation of embryonic stem cells to endothelial cells, endomucin is expressed at day 6 after onset of differentiation, 1 day later than PECAM-1. During differentiation of the mouse embryo, endomucin is first detected at E8.0 in all embryonic blood vessels detectable at this stage but is absent in blood islands of the yolk sac. Analysing the paraaortic-splanchnopleura (P-SP) region and the aorta-gonad-mesonephros (AGM) region as sites of intraembryonic hematopoiesis, we found that endothelium of the dorsal aorta is brightly positive for endomucin at E8.5-9.0 and at E11.5. At later stages and in the adult aorta, endothelial staining is strongly reduced and confined to focal areas. Cell clusters associated with the luminal surface of the endothelium of the dorsal aorta could be stained for endomucin and for CD34. At a later stage (E15.5) single leukocytes in the lumen of large venules were stained for endomucin. We conclude that endomucin is an early endothelial-specific antigen that is also expressed on putative hematopoietic progenitor cells.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.