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EMBO J. 1991 Sep;10(9):2425-35.

Embryonic RNA expression patterns of the c-kit receptor and its cognate ligand suggest multiple functional roles in mouse development.

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Mammalian Genetics Laboratory, ABL-Basic Research Program, NCI-FCRDC, Frederick, MD 21702-1201.


Mutations at the dominant white spotting (W) and Steel (Sl) loci in mouse exert deleterious effects on three migratory cell lineages (primordial germ cells, melanocytes and hematopoietic stem cells) resulting in loss of pigmentation, reduced fertility and anemia. The W locus encodes the c-kit protein tyrosine kinase (TK) receptor. More recently, the Sl locus has been shown to encode a ligand for c-kit, which is variously known as mast cell growth factor (MGF), stem cell growth factor and c-kit ligand. Here we report an in situ hybridization analysis comparing the expression profiles of MGF and c-kit transcripts during mouse embryogenesis. The data are consistent with the c-kit receptor-ligand complex providing a homing mechanism during stem cell migration in early development and in stem cell proliferation, differentiation, or survival in late development. In the nervous system, an unexpected and complex pattern of expression is uncovered that suggests involvement of the W and Sl gene products in the organization of the neural tube and brain.

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