Platelet endothelial adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1/CD31) is a glycoprotein adhesion molecule of the Ig superfamily that is constitutively expressed on leukocytes, platelets, and endothelial cells where it concentrates at the intercellular borders of adjacent cells. Recent studies have confirmed that endothelial PECAM-1 is involved in the recruitment of neutrophils into inflammatory sites. However, the effects of inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma on endothelial PECAM-1 expression are not known. We studied the effect of several inflammatory cytokines on human umbilical vein endothelial cell PECAM-1 expression. We found that TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma produced dose-dependent changes in the surface distribution of PECAM-1, with a loss of the typical staining of PECAM-1 at intercellular junctions. Because TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma did not alter PECAM-1 transcription or total surface PECAM-1, these changes in PECAM-1 localization are most consistent with a redistribution of the protein away from intercellular junctions. This cytokine-induced surface redistribution of PECAM-1 was associated with changes in PECAM-1 cytoskeletal association but did not involve the expression of different alternatively spliced variants of the molecule. Given the involvement of endothelial PECAM-1 in neutrophil recruitment, redistribution of PECAM-1 may serve as a mechanism for regulating the transmigration of leukocytes across the vascular endothelium.

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