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Kit ligand cytoplasmic domain is essential for basolateral sorting in vivo and has roles in spermatogenesis and hematopoiesis.


Juxtamembrane signaling via the membrane growth factor KitL is critical for Kit mediated functions. KitL has a conserved cytoplasmic domain and has been shown to possess a monomeric leucine-dependent basolateral targeting signal. To investigate the consequences in vivo of impaired basolateral KitL targeting in polarized epithelial cells, we have mutated this critical leucine to alanine using a knock-in strategy. KitL(L263A/L263A) mutant mice are pigmented normally and steady-state hematopoiesis is unaffected although peritoneal and skin mast cell numbers are significantly increased. KitL localization is affected in the Sertoli cells of the KitL(L263A/L263A) testis and testis size is reduced in these mice due to aberrant spermatogonial proliferation. Furthermore, the effect of the KitL L263A mutation on the testicular phenotype is dosage dependent. The tubules of hemizygous KitL(L263A/Sl) mice completely lack germ cells in contrast to the weaker testicular phenotype of KitL(L263A/L263A) mice. The onset of the testis phenotype coincides with the formation of tight junctions between Sertoli cells during postnatal development. Thus, the altered sorting of KitL is dispensable for hematopoietic and melanogenic lineages, yet is crucial in the testicular environment, where the basal membranes of adjacent polarized Sertoli cells form a niche for the proliferating spermatogonia.

Pubmed ID: 19874813


  • Deshpande S
  • Agosti V
  • Manova K
  • Moore MA
  • Hardy MP
  • Besmer P


Developmental biology

Publication Data

January 15, 2010

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NICHD NIH HHS, Id: R01 HD 38908
  • Agency: NICHD NIH HHS, Id: R01 HD038908
  • Agency: NICHD NIH HHS, Id: R01 HD038908-19
  • Agency: NIDDK NIH HHS, Id: R01 HL/DK55748
  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: R01 HL051031
  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: R01 HL051031-08
  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: R01 HL055748
  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: R01 HL055748-05A1

Mesh Terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Exons
  • Gene Targeting
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Lymphopoiesis
  • Male
  • Mast Cells
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Transport
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Stem Cell Factor
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Testis