Biomaterials 35, 3618-3626 (2014)
A role for c-Kit in the maintenance of undifferentiated human mesenchymal stromal cells


Suphanantachat S, Iwata T, Ishihara J, Yamato M, Okano T, Izumi Y


Mesenchymal stromal cells, Periodontal ligament, c-Kit receptor, Stem cell factor, Growth factors, Cell differentiation




The multipotency of human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs) and the feasibility of deriving these cells from periodontal ligament hold promise for stem cell-based tissue engineering. However, the regulation of adult hMSCs activity is not well understood. The present study investigated the c-Kit surface receptor and downstream gene expression in hMSCs. The c-Kit-positive population showed increased colony-forming ability rather than differentiation potential. The knockdown of c-Kit and/or stem cell factor (SCF) genes enhanced alkaline phosphatase activity and also upregulated osteoblast- and adipocyte-specific genes, including osteocalcin, runt-related transcription factor 2, osteopontin, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ, and lipoprotein lipase. Stimulation with growth factors, including fibroblast growth factor-2, transforming growth factor-β1, and enamel matrix derivative significantly suppressed the mRNA expression of c-Kit. These results support an emerging understanding of the roles of the c-Kit/SCF signal in maintaining the undifferentiated stage of hMSCs by inhibiting the expression of lineage-specific genes in hMSCs and regulating the effect of growth factors on the proliferation and differentiation of hMSCs. The modulation of c-Kit/SCF signaling might contribute to future regenerative approaches in controlling both the stemness and differentiation properties of hMSCs.