Role in Cancer
Activating mutations in this gene are associated with gastrointestinal stromal tumors, testicular seminoma, mast cell disease, melanoma, acute myeloid leukemia, while inactivating mutations are associated with the genetic defect piebaldism.
CD117 is a proto-oncogene, meaning that overexpression or mutations of this protein can lead to cancer. Seminomas, a subtype of testicular germ cell tumors, frequently have activating mutations in exon 17 of CD117. In addition, the gene encoding CD117 is frequently overexpressed and amplified in this tumor type, most commonly occurring as a single gene amplicon. Mutations of CD117 have also been implicated in leukemia, a cancer of hematopoietic progenitors, melanoma, mast cell disease, and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs). The efficacy of imatinib (trade name Gleevec), a CD117 inhibitor, is determined by the mutation status of CD117. When the mutation has occurred in exon 11 (as is the case many times in GISTs), the tumors are responsive to imatinib. However, if the mutation occurs in exon 17 (as is often the case in seminomas and leukemia), the receptor is not inhibited by imatinib. In those cases other inhibitors such as dasatinib and nilotinib can be used.
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