c-kit protooncogene encodes a type III transmembrane receptor kinase, the stem cell factor receptor, or KIT. The ligand of the KIT, stem cell factor, is a cytokine that stimulates mast cell growth and differentiation. We have studied immunohistochemically KIT expression in 23 canine mast cell tumors (MCTs), 10 histiocytomas, 5 malignant melanomas, and in 2 cell lines derived from mast cells (HMC-1, human and C2, canine). As expected, KIT was detected both in the human mast cell leukemia cell line (HMC-1) and in the canine mastocytoma cell line C2. In normal canine skin, KIT expression was confined to mast cells. All canine MCTs expressed KIT, although the intensity of the staining reaction varied considerably among the 23 neoplasms. Grade III tumors showed the highest expression of KIT, whereas grade I tumors showed the lowest expression of KIT. Two patterns of KIT expression were detected in mast cells. In normal canine mast cells and in some neoplastic mast cells, KIT appeared mainly on the cell membrane. However, in many canine MCTs, KIT is accumulated in the cytoplasm, usually near the cell nucleus. The meaning of these two patterns is not clear. Expression of KIT could not be detected immunohistochemically in any of the other neoplasias investigated. According to our results, it can be concluded that most, if not all, canine MCT express KIT. Furthermore, there is an inverse correlation between the degree of differentiation and the expression of KIT. Moreover, according to our results, KIT can be used as a reliable immunohistochemical marker for canine mast cells and undifferentiated mast cell tumors.
- Canine mast cell tumors
- Stem cell factor receptor