PECAM-1, apoptosis and CD34+ precursors

Maria R. Zocchi, A. Poggi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Apoptosis is a physiological process that controls tissue homeostasis, in combination with survival signals delivered by distinct receptors that bind hormones, growth factors or extracellular matrix components. The extrinsic pathway of apoptosis is due to the triggering of death receptors and the activation of the caspase cascade; the intrinsic pathway is due to withdrawal of growth factors and mainly related to mitochondrial metabolism. The choice between survival or apoptosis, which is the result of such different integrated environmental signals, is crucial for the maintainance of bone marrow reservoir of hematopoietic precursors (HPC). CD34+ HPC can receive multiple survival signals during homing and maturation, due to different interactions with adhesion molecules expressed on endothelial and bone marrow stromal cells, proteins of the extracellular matrix and chemokines or growth factors. Among them, the signal delivered via platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1) seems to contribute to the resistance of this cell population to starvation, and it is related to the maintainance of mitochondrial metabolism. Indeed, this molecule, originally described as an adhesion receptor belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily, capable of homophilic and heterophilic interactions, turned out to be a signalling molecule, containing an immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motifs (ITIM) within its cytoplasmic domain. In particular, it has been shown that PECAM-1 binds to different kinases and phosphatases, including the phosphatidylinositide-3-kinase that phosphorylates Akt, which, in turn can upregulate transcription and function of antiapoptotic proteins, such as Bcl-2 and Bcl-x or A1, responsible for the rescue from mitochondrial apoptosis. The possible role of PECAM-1 engagement in the prevention of starvation-induced apoptosis of HPC precursors and in the maintainance of their survival is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2205-2213
Number of pages9
JournalLeukemia and Lymphoma
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004


  • γδT lymphocytes
  • B-CLL
  • IFNγ
  • MIC-A
  • TNFα
  • ULBP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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