Expression of the proto-oncogene c-KIT in normal and tumor tissues from colorectal carcinoma patients

Innocenzo Sammarco, Gabriele Capurso, Luigi Coppola, Antonio Paniccià Bonifazi, Sara Cassetta, Gianfranco Delle Fave, Alessandro Carrara, Giovanni Battista Grassi, Pellegrino Rossi, Claudio Sette, Raffaele Geremia

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Background and aims: The proto-oncogene c-KIT encodes a tyrosine kinase receptor essential during embryonic development and postnatal life. Although deregulated expression of c-KIT has been reported, its role in colorectal carcinoma remains controversial: some authors have described a correlation between c-KIT expression and colorectal cancer (CRC), while others have failed to detect the receptor in the majority of neoplasia examined. To address this question, we designed a prospective study to analyze the expression of c-KIT in normal and neoplastic colonic mucosa of the same patient. Patients and methods: We analyzed the tissues of 20 patients undergoing surgical resection for colorectal carcinoma by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, Western blot and immunohisto-chemistry, whose results were correlated with histopathological parameters. Results: Most patients (90%) showed c-KIT expression in normal tissue both at RNA and protein level, while in neoplastic tissue it was observed in 30% of patients at RNA level and in 10% at protein level. By immunohistochemistry the localization of c-KIT protein in the normal colon was restricted to interstitial cells scattered in the stroma, whereas the non-neoplastic epithelium was always negative. The mucinous carcinomas were all c-KIT negative, whereas the only case in which c-KIT was displayed in the neoplastic epithelium was a G3 adenocarcinoma. Conclusion: Most colorectal carcinomas do not express c-KIT. We suggest that c-KIT expression is rarely present in this neoplasia; thus, the use of receptor inhibitors should be conducted in selected sub-groups of colon carcinoma patients, subsequent to the clear demonstration of c-KIT overexpression in the neoplastic cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-553
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Colorectal Disease
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004


  • c-KIT
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Tyrosine kinases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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