Role in Development
SCF plays an important role in the hematopoiesis during embryonic development. Sites where hematopoiesis takes place, such as the fetal liver and bone marrow, all express SCF. Mice that do not express SCF die in utero from severe anemia. Mice that do not express the receptor for SCF (c-Kit) also die from anemia. SCF may serve as guidance cues that direct hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to their stem cell niche (the microenvironment in which a stem cell resides), and it plays an important role in HSC maintenance. Non-lethal point mutants on the c-Kit receptor can cause anemia, decreased fertility, and decreased pigmentation.
During development, the presence of the SCF also plays an important role in the localization of melanocytes, cells that produce melanin and control pigmentation. In melanogenesis, melanoblasts migrate from the neural crest to their appropriate locations in the epidermis. Melanoblasts express the Kit receptor, and it is believed that SCF guides these cells to their terminal locations. SCF also regulates survival and proliferation of fully differentiated melanocytes in adults.
In spermatogenesis, c-Kit is expressed in primordial germ cells, spermatogonia, and in primordial oocytes. It is also expressed in the primordial germ cells of females. SCF is expressed along the pathways that the germ cells use to reach their terminal destination in the body. It is also expressed in the final destinations for these cells. Like for melanoblasts, this helps guide the cells to their appropriate locations in the body.
Read more about this topic: Stem Cell Factor
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