The SCF/KIT axis in human mast cells: capicua acts as potent KIT repressor and ERK predominates PI3K


  • K. Franke
  • M. Kirchner
  • P. Mertins
  • T. Zuberbier
  • M. Babina


  • Allergy


  • Allergy


  • BACKGROUND: The SCF/KIT axis regulates nearly all aspects of mast cell (MC) biology. A comprehensive view of SCF-triggered phosphorylation dynamics is lacking. The relationship between signaling modules and SCF-supported functions likewise remains ill-defined. METHODS: MCs were isolated from human skin; upon stimulation by SCF, global phosphoproteomic changes were analyzed by LC-MS/MS and selectively validated by immunoblotting. MC survival was inspected by YoPro; BrdU incorporation served to monitor proliferation. Gene expression was quantified by RT-qPCR and cytokines by ELISA. Pharmacological inhibitors were supplemented by ERK1 and/or ERK2 knock-down. CIC translocation and degradation were studied in nuclear and cytoplasmic fractions. CIC's impact on KIT signaling and function was assessed following RNA interference. RESULTS: ≈5,400 out of ≈10,500 phosphosites experienced regulation by SCF. The MEK/ERK cascade was strongly induced surpassing STAT5>PI3K/Akt>p38>JNK. Comparison between MEK/ERK's and PI3K's support of basic programs (apoptosis, proliferation) revealed equipotency between modules. In functional outputs (gene expression, cytokines), ERK was the most influential kinase. OSM and LIF production was identified in skin MCs. Strikingly, SCF triggered massive phosphorylation of a protein not associated with KIT previously: CIC. Phosphorylation was followed by CIC's cytoplasmic appearance and degradation, the latter sensitive to protease- but not preoteasome-inhibition. Both shuttling and degradation were ERK-dependent. Conversely, CIC-siRNA facilitated KIT-signaling, functional outputs and survival. CONCLUSION: The SCF/KIT axis shows notable strength in MCs, and MEK/ERK as most prominent module. An inhibitory circuit exists between KIT and CIC. CIC stabilization in MCs may turn out as a therapeutic option to interfere with allergic and MC-driven diseases.