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Keywords:

  • Schwann cell;
  • mast cell;
  • neurofibromatosis;
  • stem cell factor;
  • KIT;
  • oncogene

Abstract

Schwann cells are the primary cell type in the disfiguring lesions associated with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF-1). These lesions also contain abnormally high numbers of mast cells, a cell type which develops in response to stem cell factor. We report here that neonatal and adult rat and human Schwann cells, as well as a transfected rat Schwann cell line and a human Schwannoma line derived from an NF-1 patient, all produced stem cell factor mRNA and protein. In coculture experiments, surface expression of stem cell factor by neonatal rat Schwann cells was profoundly downregulated by contact with dorsal root ganglion neurites. The receptor for stem cell factor, KIT, was not expressed in normal Schwann cells but was expressed in the human Schwannoma line, suggesting that aberrant KIT expression may form an autocrine loop in certain Schwann cell neoplasias. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.