Platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1/CD31) is widely used as a marker during vasculogenesis and angiogenesis from embryonic stem (ES) cells. However, the expression of PECAM-1 isoforms in ES cells has not been determined. The present study was designed to determine the role of PECAM-1 isoforms during in vitro endothelial differentiation of ES cells. It was found that undifferentiated ES cells expressed high level of PECAM-1, which primarily located at cell-cell junction, but the expression of PECAM-1 was sharply down-regulated during early ES cell differentiation. In addition, undifferentiated ES cells were found the expressed all eight known alternatively spliced PECAM-1 isoforms, among them the expression of PECAM-1 isoforms lacking exon 15 or 14&15 was predominant. Quantitative analysis revealed a significant increase in the expression of PECAM-1 isoform lacking exon 12&14&15 as vascular development of ES cells. These results indicate a constitutive expression of PECAM-1 in undifferentiated murine ES cells and suggest a developmental role of PECAM-1 isoform changes during vasculogenesis and angiogenesis.
(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.