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Cancer Lett. 2000 Jun 1;154(1):107-11.

Expression of the c-kit protein is associated with certain subtypes of salivary gland carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, National Taiwan University Hospital, 7 Chung-Shan South Road, Taipei, Taiwan.


The c-Kit protein, a receptor type tyrosine kinase that plays an important role in the development of hematopoietic cells, melanocytes, and germ cells, is expressed in mastocytosis, gastrointestinal stromal cell tumors (GISTs), germ cell tumors, and several other tumors. Gain-of-function mutations in exon 11 and exon 17 have been shown as a mechanism of c-kit activation in some tumors. To study the role of c-kit in salivary gland carcinomas, we analyzed the c-kit protein expression in 79 carcinomas of major and minor salivary glands by immunohistochemistry. Although varying in intensity of staining, c-kit expression was identified very often in adenoid cystic carcinomas (20/25), lymphoepithelioma-like carcinomas (6/6) and myoepithelial carcinomas (2/2), but not in other types of salivary gland carcinoma (0/46), P<0.00001. By DNA sequencing, genetic alteration of c-kit juxtamembrane domain (exon 11) and tyrosine kinase domain (exon 17) was not found in all the three types of salivary carcinoma that had c-kit protein expression. In conclusion, c-kit protein overexpression is involved in the pathogenesis of certain types of salivary gland carcinoma, but mutation of the gene is not the mechanism of c-kit activation.

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