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Development. 1993 Sep;119(1):49-56.

Stem cell factor induces outgrowth of c-kit-positive neurites and supports the survival of c-kit-positive neurons in dorsal root ganglia of mouse embryos.

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Department of Pathology, Osaka University Medical School, Suita, Japan.


The c-kit receptor tyrosine kinase is highly expressed by about 10% of the neurons in the dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) of mouse embryos. We investigated the in vitro effect of stem cell factor (SCF), the ligand for c-kit receptor, on DRGs. Recombinant murine SCF (rmSCF) induced the outgrowth of c-kit-positive neurites from DRGs of normal (+/+) embryos. The effect of SCF was dose dependent and completely abolished by anti-c-kit ACK2 monoclonal antibody (mAb). Some neurites whose outgrowth was induced by nerve growth factor (NGF) were c-kit-positive, but anti-NGF mAb did not inhibit the rmSCF-induced neurite outgrowth. rmSCF did not induce neurite outgrowth from DRGs of W/W embryos that did not express c-kit receptors on the cell surface and of W42/W42 mutant embryos that expressed c-kit receptors without tyrosine kinase activity. rmSCF also had a trophic effect on c-kit-positive neurons in the culture of dissociated DRG cells. Most c-kit-positive neurons appeared to respond to NGF as well, and the SCF-responsive subpopulation represented about 10% of NGF-responsive neurons. rmSCF did not support the survival of DRG neurons from embryos of W/W and W42/W42 genotypes. These results suggest that the stimulus through the c-kit receptor tyrosine kinase has an important role in development of the peripheral nervous system.

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