The identification and characterisation of novel KIT transcripts in aggressive mast cell malignancies and normal CD34+ cells.
KIT mutations have been identified in several malignancies, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and systemic mastocytosis (SM). Mast cell leukemia (MCL) is the most aggressive mast cell neoplasm, but has not been well studied due to its rarity. We identified novel KIT transcripts in two patients with MCL and two patients with SM with an associated hematological disorder, but not from two patients with SM. Similar novel KIT transcripts were also observed in normal CD34+ cells from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood, suggesting that altered KIT isoforms may be specific to the blast stage of hematopoietic precursors. The novel KIT proteins lack several domains including the ATP binding site, and one was inactive in a functional test for autophosphorylation. Our discovery of novel KIT transcripts underscores the importance of analysing entire protein encoding regions when studying genes of interest.