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Open Access Research article

Canine and human gastrointestinal stromal tumors display similar mutations in c-KIT exon 11

Emmalena Gregory-Bryson1, Elizabeth Bartlett2, Matti Kiupel13, Schantel Hayes3 and Vilma Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan124*

Author Affiliations

1 Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

2 Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, 2209 Biomedical and Physical Sciences, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

3 Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation, Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, Michigan State University, 4125 Beaumont Road, Lansing, Michigan, USA

4 Department Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:559  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-559

Published: 15 October 2010

Abstract

Background

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are common mesenchymal neoplasms in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and dogs. Little is known about the pathogenesis of these tumors. This study evaluated the role of c-KIT in canine GISTs; specifically, we investigated activating mutations in exons 8, 9, 11, 13, and 17 of c-KIT and exons 12, 14, and 18 of platelet-derived growth factor receptor, alpha polypeptide (PDGFRA), all of which have been implicated in human GISTs.

Methods

Seventeen canine GISTs all confirmed to be positive for KIT immunostaining were studied. Exons 8, 9, 11, 13 and 17 of c-KIT and exons 12, 14, and 18 of PDGFRA, were amplified from DNA isolated from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples.

Results

Of these seventeen cases, six amplicons of exon 11 of c-KIT showed aberrant bands on gel electrophoresis. Sequencing of these amplicons revealed heterozygous in-frame deletions in six cases. The mutations include two different but overlapping six base pair deletions. Exons 8, 9, 13, and 17 of c-KIT and exons 12, 14, and 18 of PDGFRA had no abnormalities detected by electrophoresis and sequencing did not reveal any mutations, other than synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) found in exon 11 of c-KIT and exons 12 and 14 of PDGFRA.

Conclusions

The deletion mutations detected in canine GISTs are similar to those previously found in the juxtamembrane domain of c-KIT in canine cutaneous mast cell tumors in our laboratory as well as to those reported in human GISTs. Interestingly, none of the other c-KIT or PDGFRA exons showed any abnormalities in our cases. This finding underlines the critical importance of c-KIT in the pathophysiology of canine GISTs. The expression of KIT and the identification of these activating mutations in c-KIT implicate KIT in the pathogenesis of these tumors. Our results indicate that mutations in c-KIT may be of prognostic significance and that targeting KIT may be a rational approach to treatment of these malignant tumors. This study further demonstrates that spontaneously occurring canine GISTs share molecular features with human GISTs and are an appropriate model for human GISTs.