Cell-cell adhesion is controlled by many molecules found on the cell surface. In addition to the constituents of well-defined junctional structures, there are the molecules that are thought to play a role in the initial interactions of cells and that appear at precise times during development. These include the cadherins and cell adhesion molecules (CAMs). Representatives of these families of adhesion molecules have been isolated from most of the major tissues. The notable exception is the vascular endothelium. Here we report the identification of a cell surface molecule designated "endoCAM" (endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule), which may function as an endothelial cell-cell adhesion molecule. EndoCAM is a 130-kD glycoprotein expressed on the surface of endothelial cells both in culture and in situ. It is localized to the borders of contiguous endothelial cells. It is also present on platelets and white blood cells. Antibodies against endoCAM prevent the initial formation of endothelial cell-cell contacts. Despite similarities in size and intercellular location, endoCAM does not appear to be a member of the cadherin family of adhesion receptors. The serologic and protease susceptibility characteristics of endoCAM are different from those of the known cadherins, including an endogenous endothelial cadherin. Although the precise biologic function of endoCAM has not been determined, it appears to be one of the molecules responsible for regulating endothelial cell-cell adhesion processes and may be involved in platelet and white blood cell interactions with the endothelium.

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