Expression of the CD34 gene in vascular endothelial cells

Laura Fina, Harald V. Molgaard, David Robertson, Nicholas J. Bradley, Paul Monaghan, Domenico Delia, D. Robert Sutherland, Michael A. Baker, Melvyn F. Greaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


All seven of a set of CD34 monoclonal antibodies that recognize epitopes on an ≈110 Kd glycoprotein on human hemopoietic progenitor cells also bind to vascular endothelium. Capillaries of most tissues are CD34 positive, as are umbilical artery and, to a lesser extent, vein, but the endothelium of most large vessels and the endothelium of placental sinuses are not. Angioblastoma cells and parafollicular mesenchymal cells in fetal skin are also CD34 positive, as are some stromal elements. An ≈110 Kd protein can be identified by Western blot analysis with CD34 antibodies in detergent extracts of freshly isolated umbilical vessel endothelial cells, and CD34 mRNA is present in cultured umbilical vein cells as well as other tissues rich in vascular endothelium (breast, placenta). These data indicate that the binding of CD34 antibodies to vascular endothelium is to the CD34 gene product, and not to crossreactive epitopes. Despite the presence of CD34 mRNA in cultured, proliferating endothelial cells, the latter do not bind CD34 antibodies. In addition, CD34 antigen cannot be upregulated by growth factors. We conclude that under these conditions, CD34 protein is downregulated or processed into another form that is unreactive with CD34 antibodies. Electron microscopy of umbilical artery, breast, and kidney capillary vessels reveals that in all three sites, CD34 molecules are concentrated on membrane processes, many of which interdigitate between adjacent endothelial cells. However, well-established endothelial cell contacts with tight junctions are CD34 negative. CD34 may function as an adhesion molecule on both endothelial cells and hematopoietic progenitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2417-2426
Number of pages10
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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