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Bone remodeling requires cooperation between osteoclasts and other specialized or accessory bone cell populations by mechanisms that have not been completely elucidated. Here we describe the expression and functional role of the proto-oncogene c-kit and of its specific ligand stem cell factor (SCF) on human osteoclasts, osteoblasts, and stromal cells derived from different sources. Our results indicate that primary osteoclasts in imprints of metaphyseal bone and giant cell tumors (GCTs) of bone, as well as a bone marrow-derived preosteoclast cell line of human origin (FLG 29.1), expressed immunodetectable c-kit protein. In contrast, tissue osteoclasts did not react with anti-SCF antibodies, and barely detectable levels of SCF mRNA and protein were found in FLG 29.1 cells. Conversely, a strong expression of membrane bound-SCF was found in primary cultured bone marrow stromal cells, in a stromal cell line (C433) derived from the mononuclear component of GCT of bone, and in a human cell line with osteoblast features (Saos-2). FLG 29.1 preosteoclast cells displayed about 29,000 binding sites/cell of a single class of high affinity c-kit receptors (Kd 6.12 x 10(-10) mol/L) with a molecular weight of about 140 kDa, along with a structurally normal c-kit mRNA. Proliferation of FLG 29.1 preosteoclast cells was stimulated by exogenous SCF, indicating that c-kit was capable of transducing growth signals. Finally, in vitro adhesion of FLG 29.1 cells to primary bone marrow stromal cells, GCT-derived stromal cells (C433), and Saos-2 osteoblast cells was significantly inhibited by an excess of soluble SCF or by monoclonal antibodies recognizing SCF binding sites on the c-kit receptor. These results indicate that c-kit is constitutively expressed on human osteoclasts and that it may be directly implicated in cell contact-dependent interaction of osteoclasts with other specialized or accessory cell populations of the bone microenvironment. Our observations suggest a role for SCF in human diseases characterized by abnormal bone resorption and remodeling.


Journal article


Cell growth differ

Publication Date





753 - 763


Bone Marrow, Bone Marrow Cells, Cell Adhesion, Cell Communication, Cell Line, Cell Membrane, Humans, Osteoblasts, Osteoclasts, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit, Stem Cell Factor, Stem Cells, Stromal Cells