Stem cell factor (SCF) is a cytokine for hematopoietic progenitor cells and plays an important role in megakaryocyte proliferation. The UT-7 cell line was established from a patient with megakaryoblastic leukemia, and its growth and survival are strictly dependent on interleukin-3 (IL-3), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), erythropoietin (Epo), or IL-6. In this study, we showed that SCF also supported the growth of UT-7 in the absence of other cytokines and downregulated the cell surface c-kit receptors. Constitutive expression of SCF by introducing SCF expression vector made UT-7 grow factor-independently in liquid medium, but not in semisolid medium. This SCF-expressing factor-independent UT-7 (UT-7scf9) expressed the membrane bound form of SCF on their surface, but did not secrete detectable amounts of soluble SCF. UT-7scf9 formed aggregates as they grew in the absence of cytokines, and this aggregation was inhibited by adding soluble SCF into the medium. UT-7 cultured with SCF and UT-7scf9 cultured without cytokines expressed GM-CSF, and anti-GM-CSF neutralizing antibody partially inhibited their growth. These results suggest that SCF stimulated UT-7 proliferation partially through the autocrine-loop of GM-CSF, and UT-7scf9 expressed SCF mostly as a membrane-bound form, which transduces its growth signal through c-kit receptor as they aggregate by cell-to-cell interaction.

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