The biology of stem cell factor and its receptor C-kit

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 1999 Oct;31(10):1037-51. doi: 10.1016/s1357-2725(99)00076-x.


The receptor tyrosine kinase c-Kit and its ligand Stem Cell Factor (SCF) are essential for haemopoiesis, melanogenesis and fertility. SCF acts at multiple levels of the haemopoietic hierarchy to promote cell survival, proliferation, differentiation, adhesion and functional activation. It is of particular importance in the mast cell and erythroid lineages, but also acts on multipotential stem and progenitor cells, megakaryocytes, and a subset of lymphoid progenitors. SCF exists in soluble or transmembrane forms which appear to differ in function. Multiple isoforms of c-Kit also exist as a result of alternate mRNA splicing, proteolytic cleavage and the use of cryptic internal promoters in certain cell types. This review focuses on what is known about the regulation of c-Kit expression, the functions of SCF and c-Kit isoforms, and the nature of the biological responses elicited by this receptor-ligand pair with emphasis on the haemopoietic system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Survival
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms / physiology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / physiology*
  • Stem Cell Factor / genetics
  • Stem Cell Factor / metabolism
  • Stem Cell Factor / physiology*


  • Protein Isoforms
  • Stem Cell Factor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit