TEM1 (endosialin) expression is increased in the stroma and tumor vasculature of several common human cancers. The exact physiological role of TEM1 is still unknown since Tem1-deficient mice are viable and show only a lower rate of abdominal site-specific tumor invasion in tumor transplantation experiments. Previous studies have reported Tem1 expression in mouse embryos and adults, but did not determine the timing or location of the earliest expression, and did not examine all organ systems. Using the highly sensitive Bluo-Gal staining method for detecting temporal and spatial Tem1-lacZ activity in lacZ knock-in (+/lacZ) mice, we found that Tem1 gene expression was initially detectable in the dorsal aortic wall, the heart, the umbilical vessels, the first branchial arch, and the cephalic mesenchyme at E9.5. From E10.5 to E14.5, Tem1 gene expression was additionally seen mainly in the genital tubercle, the mesonephros, the whisker follicles, the mesenchymal tissues around the eye, and the lung. Remarkably, the kidney expressed abundant Tem1-lacZ starting from E16.5. Postnatally, Tem1 expression decreased in most organs but elevated expression persisted in the renal glomerulus and the uterus, where the expression pattern varied at different estrous cycle stages. Co-localization studies indicated that most vimentin-positive cells co-expressed Tem1-lacZ, while a large portion of CD31- or desmin-positive cells were also positive for Tem1-lacZ. Taken together, our observations suggest that Tem1 is expressed throughout embryonic and adult development in several types of mesenchymal cells closely related to blood vessels.
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