Enforced c-KIT expression renders highly metastatic human melanoma cells susceptible to stem cell factor-induced apoptosis and inhibits their tumorigenic and metastatic potential

Oncogene. 1996 Dec 5;13(11):2339-47.


Expression of the tyrosine-kinase receptor encoded by the c-KIT proto-oncogene progressively decreases during local tumor growth and invasion of human melanomas. To provide direct evidence that c-KIT plays a role in metastasis of human melanoma, we transfected the c-KIT gene into the c-KIT negative highly metastatic human melanoma cell line A375SM and subsequently analysed its tumorigenic and metastatic potential. A375SM parental cells, A375SM-NOT (neo, control), and A375SM-KIT-positive cells were injected s.c. and i.v. into nude mice. A375SM-KIT cells produced significantly slower growing s.c. tumors and fewer lung metastases than control cells. Exposure of c-KIT-positive melanoma cells in vitro and in vivo to stem cell factor (SCF), the ligand for c-KIT, triggered apoptosis of these cells but not of c-KIT-negative melanoma cells or normal melanocytes. Since SCF is produced by keratinocytes and other dermal cells in the skin, these results suggest that the loss of c-KIT receptor expression may allow malignant melanoma cells to escape SCF/c-KIT-mediated apoptosis, hence contributing to tumor growth and eventually metastasis. The antitumor and antimetastatic properties of SCF may be useful in treating human melanomas in early stages.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Male
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • Melanoma / metabolism*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma / secondary*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Phenotype
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Stem Cell Factor / metabolism
  • Stem Cell Factor / pharmacology*
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Stem Cell Factor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit