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Cancer Res. 1994 Jun 1;54(11):3049-53.

Coexpression of the c-kit receptor and the stem cell factor in gynecological tumors.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, Osaka University, Japan.


The protooncogene c-kit encodes a transmembrane receptor-type tyrosine kinase which belongs to the beta-PDGER/CSF-1 receptor tyrosine kinase family. The interaction between c-kit receptor and its corresponding ligand, stem cell factor (SCF), has been suggested to be involved in embryogenesis as well as carcinogenesis via the autocrine/paracrine system. In the present study, cancer cell lines and normal/benign/malignant tissues of the human female genital tract were examined for the expression of both c-kit and SCF by Northern blot and immunohistochemical analyses. Two of 16 cell lines showed mRNA expression of both c-kit and SCF, while 2 and 12 cell lines expressed c-kit and SCF, respectively. In tissues, several cases of malignant tumors, including three cervical cancers, one ovarian cancer, and one ovarian immature teratoma, expressed mRNA of both c-kit and SCF. In normal tissues, squamous epithelium expressed SCF immunohistochemically, while c-kit protein was detected only in melanocytes. Some tissues of malignant tumors, one squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix, two small cell carcinomas of the cervix, two serous adenocarcinomas of the ovary, and two immature teratomas of the ovary, expressed both c-kit and SCF proteins immunohistochemically. It is also notable that c-kit protein was expressed only in malignant germ cells of dysgerminomas, while SCF was expressed in the connective tissues surrounding germ cells. The present study suggests that the c-kit/SCF system may play an important role in the carcinogenesis of the female genital tract.

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