CD146 is 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. As a member of the Immunoglobulin superfamily, 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.
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.
As a Ca2+ independent cell adhesion molecule involved in heterophilic cell to cell interactions and a surface receptor,CD146 triggers tyrosine phosphorylation of FYN and PTK2 and subsequently induced signal transduction, proteolysis or immune recognition.