Melanoma cell adhesion molecule
Symbols MCAM; CD146; MUC18
External IDs OMIM155735 MGI1933966 HomoloGene4742 GeneCards: MCAM Gene
Species Human Mouse
Entrez 4162 84004
Ensembl ENSG00000076706 ENSMUSG00000032135
UniProt P43121 Q8R2Y2
RefSeq (mRNA) NM_006500 NM_023061.2
RefSeq (protein) NP_006491 NP_075548.2
Location (UCSC) Chr 11:
119.18 – 119.19 Mb
Chr 9:
43.94 – 43.95 Mb
PubMed search [1] [2]

CD146 (cluster of differentiation 146) also known as the melanoma cell adhesion molecule (MCAM) or cell surface glycoprotein MUC18, is a 113kDa cell adhesion molecule currently used as a marker for endothelial cell lineage. In humans, the CD146 protein is encoded by the MCAM gene.[1]



Its function is still poorly understood, but evidence points to it being part of the endothelial junction associated with the actin cytoskeleton. A member of the Immunoglobulin superfamily, it consists of five Ig domains, a transmembrane domain, and a cytoplasmic region. It is expressed on chicken embryonic spleen and thymus, activated human T cells, endothelial progenitors such as angioblasts and mesenchymal stem cells, and strongly expressed on blood vessel endothelium and smooth muscle.

Two isoforms exist (MCAM long (MCAM-1), and MCAM short, or MCAM-s) which differ in the length of their cytoplasmic domain. Activation of these isoforms seems to produce functional differences as well. Natural killer cells transfected with MCAM-1 demonstrate decreased rolling velocity and increased cell adhesion to an endothelial cell monolayer and increased microvilli formation while cells transfected with MCAM-s showed no change in adhesion characteristics. Since these characteristics are important in leukocyte extravasation, MCAM-1 may be an important part of the inflammatory response.

CD146 has been demonstrated to appear on a small subset of T and B lymphocytes in the peripheral blood of healthy individuals. The CD146+ T cells display an immunophenotype consistent with effector memory cells and have a distinct gene profile from the CD146- T cells.[2][3]

CD146 has been seen as a marker for mesenchymal stem cells isolated from multiple adult and fetal organs,[4] and its expression may be linked to multipotency; mesenchymal stem cells with greater differentiation potential express higher levels of CD146 on the cell surface.[5]


  1. ^ Kuske MD, Johnson JP (1999). "Assignment of the human melanoma cell adhesion molecule gene (MCAM) to chromosome 11 band q23.3 by radiation hybrid mapping". Cytogenet. Cell Genet. 87 (3–4): 258. doi:10.1159/000015439. PMID 10702685. 
  2. ^ Elshal MF, Khan SS, Takahashi Y, Solomon MA, McCoy JP (October 2005). "CD146 (Mel-CAM), an adhesion marker of endothelial cells, is a novel marker of lymphocyte subset activation in normal peripheral blood". Blood 106 (8): 2923–4. doi:10.1182/blood-2005-06-2307. PMID 16204154. 
  3. ^ Elshal MF, Khan SS, Raghavachari N, Takahashi Y, Barb J, Bailey JJ, Munson PJ, Solomon MA, Danner RL, McCoy JP (2007). "A unique population of effector memory lymphocytes identified by CD146 having a distinct immunophenotypic and genomic profile". BMC Immunol. 8: 29. doi:10.1186/1471-2172-8-29. PMC 2248207. PMID 17999761. 
  4. ^ Covas DT, Panepucci RA, Fontes AM, Silva WA, Orellana MD, Freitas MC, Neder L, Santos AR, Peres LC, Jamur MC, Zago MA (May 2008). "Multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells obtained from diverse human tissues share functional properties and gene-expression profile with CD146+ perivascular cells and fibroblasts". Exp. Hematol. 36 (5): 642–54. doi:10.1016/j.exphem.2007.12.015. PMID 18295964. 
  5. ^ Russell KC, Phinney DG, Lacey MR, Barrilleaux BL, Meyertholen KE, O'Connor KC (April 2010). "In vitro high-capacity assay to quantify the clonal heterogeneity in trilineage potential of mesenchymal stem cells reveals a complex hierarchy of lineage commitment". Stem Cells 28 (4): 788–98. doi:10.1002/stem.312. PMID 20127798. 

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