Role of Lu/BCAM in abnormal adhesion of sickle red blood cells to vascular endothelium

Transfus Clin Biol. Feb-Mar 2008;15(1-2):29-33. doi: 10.1016/j.tracli.2008.05.002. Epub 2008 Jun 2.


Lutheran (Lu) blood group and Basal Cell Adhesion Molecule (BCAM) antigens are both carried by two glycoprotein (gp) isoforms of the immunoglobulin superfamily representing receptors for laminin alpha5 chain. They are expressed in red blood cells, in endothelial cells of vascular capillaries and in epithelial cells of several tissues. Lu/BCAM gps are overexpressed in sickle red blood cells (SS RBCs). Stimulation of SS RBCs by epinephrine activates the PKA depending signaling pathway and induces reinforced Lu/BCAM-mediated adhesion to laminin10/11. We have analyzed the phosphorylation state of Lu/BCAM long isoform cytoplasmic tail and showed that it is phosphorylated by CKII, GSK3b and PKA. Phosphorylation of this isoform in transfected K562 cells is stimulated by effectors of the PKA pathway and induces cell adhesion to laminin10/11. Lu/BCAM gps are highly expressed in endothelial cells and exhibit potential integrin binding motifs. We showed that they interact with integrin alpha4beta1, the unique integrin expressed on the surface of young reticulocytes. Adhesion assays under flow conditions showed that SS RBCs adhere to primary human endothelial cells (HUVEC) after selective activation of intergin alpha4beta1 and that this adhesion is mediated by endothelial Lu/BCAM gps. Our studies show that Lu/BCAM gps expressed either on erythroid or on endothelial cells are involved in SS RBC-endothelium interactions and could play a role in the abnormal adhesion of SS RBCs to vascular endothelium contributing to the vaso-occlusive crises reported for sickle cell disease patients.

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / blood
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / physiopathology*
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / biosynthesis
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / physiology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology*
  • Epinephrine / pharmacology
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Erythrocytes / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Integrin alpha4beta1 / physiology
  • Lutheran Blood-Group System
  • Neoplasm Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / physiology*


  • BCAM protein, human
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Integrin alpha4beta1
  • Lutheran Blood-Group System
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Epinephrine