Mutations at the murine dominant-white spotting locus (W) (c-kit) affect various aspects of hematopoiesis. We have made antibodies against c-Kit with the synthetic peptides deduced from the murine c-kit gene and examined the role of c-Kit in erythropoiesis. The antibody inhibited the stromal cell-dependent large colony formation of the erythroid progenitors. In the culture of erythropoietin-responsive erythroid progenitors of the anemia-inducing Friend virus-infected mouse spleen, the antibody inhibited only proliferation, but not differentiation of the progenitor cells. The inhibition was effective only at the early phase (within 6 hours after erythropoietin addition) before the cells start to proliferate induced by erythropoietin. During the early phase, erythropoietin down-regulated c-kit gene expression. These results suggest a mechanism of combined action of c-Kit with erythropoietin on the lineage-restricted erythroid progenitor cells.

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