Embryonic expression of a haematopoietic growth factor encoded by the Sl locus and the ligand for c-kit

Nature. 1990 Oct 18;347(6294):667-9. doi: 10.1038/347667a0.


Mice carrying mutations at the W (Dominant white spotting) and Sl (Steel) loci develop abnormalities in three independent systems: neural crest-derived melanocytes, primordial germ cells and haematopoietic stem cells. Consequently, homozygotes of viable mutant alleles have white coats and are sterile and severely anaemic. Tissue recombination studies predict that the W gene is expressed cell autonomously, whereas the product of the Sl locus affects the microenvironment in which the stem cells migrate, proliferate and differentiate. The W locus encodes the protoncogene c-kit, a member of the tyrosine kinase receptor family. The haematopoietic growth factor SCF (stem cell factor) has been identified as the product of the Sl locus and a ligand for c-kit. Here, we report that SCF is expressed during embryogenesis in cells associated with both the migratory pathways and homing sites of melanoblasts, germ cells and haematopoietic stem cells. Both SCF and c-kit are also expressed in a variety of other tissues, including the brain and spinal cord, suggesting that the receptor-ligand system has additional roles in embryogenesis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / embryology
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression*
  • Germ Cells / metabolism
  • Hematopoietic Cell Growth Factors / genetics*
  • Hematopoietic Cell Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Liver / embryology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Melanocytes / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
  • RNA / analysis
  • Spinal Cord / embryology
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Yolk Sac / metabolism


  • Hematopoietic Cell Growth Factors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • RNA
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit