In this study, we examined the role of c-kit receptor (KIT) signal transduction on the proliferation and invasion of colorectal cancer cells. We found that c-kit was expressed in 2 colorectal cancer cell lines as determined by RT-PCR, Western blot, and flow cytometry. In KIT-positive lines, KIT was activated by stem cell factor (SCF). SCF enhanced cellular proliferation of positive lines as demonstrated by the WST-1 proliferation assay. Furthermore, SCF enhanced the invasive ability of KIT-positive cell lines. SCF stimulation upregulated p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and Akt as shown by Western blot. We examined the roles played by p44/42 MAPK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathways in proliferation and invasion. PI3K/Akt activity strongly correlated with proliferation and invasion and p44/42 MAPK was correlated with only invasion. In conclusion, the SCF-enhanced proliferation and invasion of KIT-positive colorectal cancer cells is achieved mainly through the PI3K/Akt pathway.
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