Tumor progression is strongly associated with the activity of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and their intracellular signal
transduction pathways, which regulate several cell functions including proliferation, apoptosis, motility, adhesion and angiogenesis. Detailed
structural and functional studies of RTKs, including the stem cell factor receptor c-KIT, revealed the complexity of these receptor
systems and contributed to development of targeted clinical approaches with relevance in both prognosis and therapy. C-KIT signaling
network has been the subject of intense research and pharmaceutical strategies to identify novel target-based approaches for cancer treatment.
Evidence that c-KIT signaling promotes cell proliferation and survival, along with the frequency in which this pathway is aberrantly
activated in cancer, support the current efforts to identify approaches for its efficient inhibition. C-KIT mutations are associatied
with several human malignancies, such as gastrointestinal stromal tumors, acute myeloid leukemia, mast cell leukemia, and melanoma.
Novel therapies are developed that target some of the identified genetic defects. It is therefore anticipated that newly-identified genetic
markers will acquire a predictive value, that is, the ability to predict differential efficacy of a therapy. This review describes the evolving
understanding of c-KIT/SCF axis and their downstream signaling in cancer, and the strategies for c-KIT-directed targeted cancer therapy.
Keywords: c-KIT, cancer, tyrosine kinases, mastocytosis, GIST, melanoma, leukemia, therapy.
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