Expression of the c-kit (CD117) molecule in normal and malignant hematopoiesis

Leuk Lymphoma. 1998 Aug;30(5-6):459-66. doi: 10.3109/10428199809057558.


The c-kit proto-oncogen (CD 117) has been shown to be present in several cell types including normal and neoplastic hemopoietic cells. Among normal BM cells, CD117 expression has been found in about half of the CD34+ precursors including progenitors committed to the erythroid, granulo-monocytic, and megakaryocytic cell lineages. In addition, strong CD117 expression is detected in bone marrow mast cells as well as in a small subset of NK cells displaying strong reactivity for CD56, and in a relatively important proportion of CD3 /CD4 /CD8 prothymocytes. These results suggest that CD117 expression can be detected in both myeloid and lymphoid lineages although for the lymphoid lineage it would be restricted to a small NK-cell subset and early T-cell precursors. In acute leukemias CD117 expression was initially associated with AML. Nevertheless, at present it is well established that CD 117 expression may also be found in a relatively important proportion of T-ALL while it is usually absent in B-lineage ALL. Moreover, recent studies have shown that in about one-third of multiple myeloma cases and patients with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance plasma cells display reactivity for CD1117. The prognostic influence of CD117 expression has not yet been clearly established. The analysis of this marker may also be of value for the investigation of minimal residual disease (MRD). It has been suggested that CD117 in combination with other antigens may be of great help for the identification of leukemia-associated phenotypes that could be used to monitor MRD in both acute myeloid leukemias and multiple myeloma patients achieving morphological complete remission.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Hematopoiesis*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / genetics
  • Leukemia / metabolism
  • Mast Cells / metabolism
  • Paraproteinemias / genetics
  • Paraproteinemias / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / biosynthesis*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / genetics


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit