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Am J Pathol. 1999 Dec;155(6):2043-55.

Heterogeneity of endothelial cells: the specialized phenotype of human high endothelial venules characterized by suppression subtractive hybridization.

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Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale du CNRS, Toulouse, France.


High endothelial venules (HEVs) are specialized postcapillary venules, found in lymphoid organs and chronically inflamed tissues, that support high levels of lymphocyte extravasation from the blood. Molecular characterization of HEV endothelial cells (HEVECs) has been hampered by difficulties in their purification and in vitro maintenance. To overcome these limitations, we developed a strategy combining the use of freshly purified HEVECs ( approximately 98% positive for the HEV-specific marker MECA-79) and the recently described polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based cDNA subtraction cloning procedure called suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH). Subtracted probes prepared by SSH from small amounts of total RNA were used to screen a HEVEC cDNA library. This resulted in cloning of 22 cDNAs preferentially expressed in HEVECs, which encode the promiscuous chemokine receptor DARC, mitochondrial components, and matricellular proteins. The latter included hevin, thrombospondin-1, and mac25/IGFBP-rP1, which is a secreted growth factor-binding protein previously found to accumulate specifically in tumor blood vessels. Biochemical and histochemical analysis confirmed the identification of mac25 and DARC as novel markers of the HEVECs. Ultrastructural immunolocalization revealed a noticeable association of mac25 and MECA-79 antigens with microvillous processes near the endothelial cell junctions, suggesting a role for mac25 in the control of lymphocyte emigration. This study shows that PCR-based SSH is useful for cloning of differentially expressed genes in very small samples.

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