The platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1), or CD31, a member of the immunoglobulin superfamily, is located on the plasma membrane of endothelial and hematopoietic cells and involved in vascular development and inflammation. In this study, by use of immunohistochemistry at light and electron microscopic levels in combination with enzyme histochemistry for alkaline phosphatase, we demonstrated that PECAM-1/CD31 is expressed in the mouse primordial germ cell (PGC). Up to 8 days postcoitum (dpc), PGCs with alkaline phosphatase activity showed no PECAM-1/CD31 immunoreactivity. At 9 dpc, PECAM-1/CD31 immunoreactivity was first detected with low intensity in some PGCs located in the hindgut. Between 10 and 11 dpc, intense immunoreactivity was shown on the entire surface of PGCs migrating along the dorsal wall. After arrival and settlement of PGCs in the genital ridges around 11.5 dpc, the intense immunoreactivity was maintained on the entire surface of PGCs. By electron microscopy, the immunoreactivity was localized exclusively on the plasma membrane of PGCs, being as strong at the portions adjacent to neighboring PGCs as those adjacent to somatic cells. As the male and female gonads began to differentiate, PECAM-1/CD31 immunoreactivity remained strong in germ cells until 13 dpc, after which it gradually decreased in intensity and disappeared by 16 dpc. These results suggested that cell-to-cell interaction through PECAM-1/CD31 plays roles in the development of PGCs during their migration on the dorsal wall and homing in the gonads.
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