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Keywords:

  • blastocyst;
  • angiogenesis;
  • kidney;
  • otic placode;
  • nasal placode;
  • lung;
  • epithelium;
  • endothelium;
  • PECAM-1;
  • intestine;
  • skin;
  • periderm;
  • JAM-A

Abstract

Cell adhesion molecules of the immunoglobulin superfamily play an important role in embryonic development. We have shown recently that JAM-A, a member of this family expressed at endothelial and epithelial tight junctions, is involved in platelet activation, leukocyte transmigration, and angiogenesis. Here, we determine the expression pattern of the JAM-A gene during embryogenesis using transgenic mice expressing lacZ under the control of the endogenous JAM-A promoter. Histochemical staining for β-galactosidase in heterozygous mouse embryos was first seen in the inner cell mass and trophectoderm of the blastocyst. By 8.5 days post coitum (dpc), JAM-A gene activity was detected in the endoderm and part of the surface ectoderm. At 9.5 dpc, JAM-A expression began to localize to certain organ systems, most notably the developing inner ear and early vasculature. Localization of JAM-A to embryonic vasculature was confirmed by double-staining with antibodies against JAM-A and platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1, a known endothelial cell marker. As organogenesis progressed, high levels of JAM-A expression continued in the epithelial component of the inner ear as well as the epithelium of the developing skin, olfactory system, lungs, and kidneys. In addition, JAM-A gene activity was found in the developing liver, choroid plexuses, and gut tubes. Immunofluorescent staining with a JAM-A antibody was performed to confirm that expression of the JAM-A–β-galactosidase fusion protein accurately represented endogenous JAM-A protein. Thus, JAM-A is prominently expressed in embryonic vasculature and the epithelial components of several organ systems and may have an important role in their development. Developmental Dynamics 233:1517–1524, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.