C-kit expression in renal oncocytomas and chromophobe renal cell carcinomas

Hum Pathol. 2005 Mar;36(3):262-8. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2005.01.011.


C- kit encodes the membrane-bound tyrosine kinase KIT, whose expression has been identified in several types of human neoplasms. Recently, KIT has been reported to be a marker for chromophobe renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and renal angiomyolipoma. However, expression of this molecule has not been adequately studied in other renal tumors, particularly oncocytoma, which may morphologically resemble chromophobe RCC. In this study, we analyzed c- kit messenger RNA (mRNA) levels in 17 chromophobe RCCs and 20 renal oncocytomas obtained from complementary DNA (cDNA) microarrays. Furthermore, comprehensive immunohistochemical analysis of KIT protein using a monoclonal antibody was performed in 226 renal tumors including chromophobe RCC (n=40), oncocytoma (n=41), clear-cell RCC (n=40), renal angiomyolipoma (n=29), and papillary RCC (n=21) on tissue microarrays (TMAs) and was compared with immunostaining results from 25 chromophobe RCCs and 30 oncocytomas using standard sections. The staining intensity was semiquantitatively graded on a 3-tier scoring system. All chromophobe RCCs and oncocytomas showed significant overexpression of c- kit mRNA. The average increase of mRNA compared with normal kidney tissue was 7.4-fold for chromophobe RCCs and 7.4-fold for oncocytomas. Immunohistochemical expression of KIT was found in most chromophobe RCCs (95% in TMAs and 96% in conventional sections) and oncocytomas (88% in TMAs and 100% in conventional sections) but was infrequently observed in renal angiomyolipomas (17%), papillary RCCs (5%), and clear-cell RCCs (3%). Furthermore, the average KIT immunoreactivity in TMAs was stronger in chromophobe RCC (1.93) and oncocytoma (2.07) than in other subtypes of renal tumors tested, including angiomyolipomas (0.17), papillary RCCs (0.05), and clear-cell RCCs (0.03). In conclusion, we found a significant elevation of c- kit mRNA by cDNA expression microarrays and overexpression of KIT protein by immunohistochemistry not only in chromophobe RCCs but also in oncocytomas. In contrast, immunohistochemical expression of KIT was not detected in most other types of renal cell tumors evaluated. The differential expression of c- kit in these renal tumors may have diagnostic and therapeutic implications.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Oxyphilic / chemistry
  • Adenoma, Oxyphilic / genetics*
  • Adenoma, Oxyphilic / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Kidney Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / analysis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit