KIT expression in angiosarcomas and fetal endothelial cells: lack of mutations of exon 11 and exon 17 of C-kit

Mod Pathol. 2000 May;13(5):536-41. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.3880093.


C-kit proto-oncogene product (KIT, CD117) is a tyrosine kinase growth factor receptor for stem cell factor. This receptor is important for the development and maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells, mast cells, germ cells, melanocytes, and interstitial cells of Cajal and is constitutively expressed in them. Among mesenchymal tumors, KIT seems to be specific for the gastrointestinal stromal tumors, which consistently express this protein. Activating mutations in the tyrosine kinase or juxtamembrane domains of c-kit gene have been found in mastocytoma, seminoma, and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Following up our initial observation of KIT expression in one angiosarcoma, we examined 50 angiosarcomas, 13 Kaposi sarcomas, 10 epithelioid hemangioendotheliomas, and 31 hemangiomas of different types for KIT expression using a polyclonal antiserum specific to KIT. Adult and fetal tissues and neovascular endothelia in 20 carcinomas were studied for comparison. More than half (56%) of the angiosarcomas representing different clinicopathologic and histologic subtypes and 2 of 13 Kaposi sarcoma were KIT positive. All epithelioid hemangioendotheliomas and hemangiomas were negative, with the exception of two infantile hemangiomas that showed KIT reactivity. The fetal capillary endothelia of lungs, placenta, and soft tissues were also KIT positive, although in soft tissues and placenta, KIT positivity was more prominent in the first trimester. However, endothelia of adult vessels and neovascular capillaries of carcinomas were negative. None of the four KIT-positive angiosarcomas and one KIT-positive Kaposi sarcomas that were studied showed mutations in the juxtamembrane or tyrosine kinase domains of the c-kit gene. These results indicate that KIT expression occurs in a subset of angiosarcomas, and the expression probably represents oncofetal expression (i.e., reversion of the tumor cell phenotype to that of fetal endothelial cells that may show KIT expression).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • DNA, Neoplasm / chemistry
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Endothelium, Vascular / chemistry*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / embryology
  • Exons
  • Fetus
  • Hemangioendothelioma, Epithelioid / metabolism
  • Hemangioendothelioma, Epithelioid / pathology
  • Hemangioma, Capillary / metabolism
  • Hemangioma, Capillary / pathology
  • Hemangiosarcoma / genetics
  • Hemangiosarcoma / metabolism*
  • Hemangiosarcoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Infant
  • Mutation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / biosynthesis*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / genetics
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / genetics
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / metabolism
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / pathology


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit