The c-kit proto-oncogene receptor is expressed on a subset of human CD3-CD4-CD8- (triple-negative) thymocytes.
The c-kit receptor is a tyrosine-kinase transmembrane receptor first identified as an oncogene in the HZ4-feline leukemia virus and later found to be important in hematopoiesis in mice. The ligand for this receptor (Steel factor) can stimulate hematopoiesis both in vitro and in vivo. To study the pattern of c-kit receptor expression in normal human hematopoietic progenitor cells, we prepared a monoclonal antibody (9B9) against human c-kit receptor by using a synthetic peptide (amino acids 476-501) from the extracellular domain of c-kit receptor to immunize Balb/c mice. Monoclonal antibody 9B9 bound to recombinant c-kit protein, the erythroleukemic line HEL, the megakaryocytic line MEG-01, and the murine mast cell line P815. Monoclonal antibody 9B9 also bound to the surface of the CD7+CD3-CD4-CD8- T cell lymphoid cell lines DU.528 and HSB2T, and also to 1 to 4% of normal bone-marrow cells. The majority (67 +/- 6%) of CD34+ bone-marrow progenitor cells coexpressed c-kit receptor. Flow-cytometry analysis of immature CD3-CD4-CD8- (triple-negative) thymocytes indicated 30 +/- 9.5% expressed the c-kit receptor, and thymidine incorporation assay revealed that the receptor is functional. Indirect fluorescent microscopy of human thymic tissue, using a monoclonal antibody against Steel factor, revealed its presence on scattered mononuclear cells within the intralobular septae and the subcapsular cortex, which are regions where the triple-negative thymocytes are also localized. These data provide evidence that the c-kit receptor is present on human hematopoietic bone marrow and intrathymic T cell progenitor cells, and that it likely plays a role in early T cell lymphopoiesis.
deCastro, CM; Denning, SM; Langdon, S; Vandenbark, GR; Kurtzberg, J; Scearce, R; Haynes, BF; Kaufman, RE
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