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Blood. 1999 Oct 15;94(8):2658-66.

The W(sh), W(57), and Ph Kit expression mutations define tissue-specific control elements located between -23 and -154 kb upstream of Kit.

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Molecular Biology Program Sloan-Kettering Institute, New York, NY, USA.


The Kit and PDGFRa receptor tyrosine kinases are encoded in close proximity at the murine white spotting (W) and patch (Ph) loci. Whereas W mutations affect hematopoiesis, melanogenesis, and gametogenesis, the Ph mutation affects melanogenesis and causes early lethality in homozygotes. The W(sh), W(57), and Ph mutations diminish Kit expression in certain cell types such as mast cells and enhance it in others. The W(sh), W(57), and Ph mutations arose from deletions and inversions affecting sequences in between the Kit and PDGFRa genes. We have determined the precise location of the breakpoint of the W(sh) inversion and the endpoints of the W(57) deletion upstream of the Kit transcription start site and examined the effect of these mutations on Kit expression in mast cells and hematopoietic stem cells and lineage progenitors. Our results indicate that positive elements controlling Kit expression in mast cells mapping in between -23 and -154 kb from the transcription start site can be dissociated from negative elements controlling Kit misexpression during embryonic development in the vicinity of the PDGFRa gene. In addition, we have identified two clusters of hypersensitive sites in mast cells at -23 -28 kb and -147 -154 kb from the Kit gene transcription start site. Analysis of these hypersensitive sites in mutant mast cells indicates a role for HS4-6 in Kit expression in mast cells. These findings provide a molecular basis for the phenotype of these Kit expression mutations and they provide insight into the complex mechanisms governing the regulation of Kit expression.

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