• FK506;
  • IgE;
  • Interleukin-3;
  • Stem cell factor;
  • Rapamycin


The high-affinity receptor for IgE, FcϵRI, represents the major cell surface structure through which mast cells express immunologically specific secretory function. By contrast, the stem cell factor receptor (SCFR), which is encoded by c-kit, is essential for normal mast cell development. The signaling pathways initiated by the stimulation of mast cells through the FcϵRI, which lacks intrinsic kinase activity, and the SCFR, a member of the receptor tyrosine kinase family, generally have been regarded to be distinct. We report here that mouse mast cells stimulated either with SCF or with IgE and specific antigen exhibit a remarkably similar pattern of activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK), 90 kDa-S6 kinases (pp90rsk), and pp70-S6 kinases (pp70-S6K). These results indicate that all three families of protein kinases are associated with the cell surface receptor-dependent activation of secretion, as well as proliferation, in mast cells. We also show that the immunosuppressant rapamycin, but not FK506, can inhibit both SCF-dependent pp70-S6 kinase activation and SCF-dependent proliferation in mouse mast cells, without suppressing IgE- and antigen-dependent mediator release. These findings suggest that the activation of pp70-S6 kinase represents an important link in the stimulation of cell proliferation by SCF. Our results also indicate that the intracellular signaling pathways initiated by stimulation of mast cells through the FcϵRI or the SCFR exhibit more overlap than has previously been appreciated.