A Xenopus c-kit-related receptor tyrosine kinase expressed in migrating stem cells of the lateral line system.
The mammalian c-kit receptor tyrosine kinase gene is required during embryogenesis for the survival and/or proliferation of three migrating stem cell populations: primordial germ cells, haematopoietic stem cells and neural crest-derived melanoblasts. We have cloned a Xenopus gene, XKrk1, whose closest relative is c-kit. Differences in the expression pattern suggest that XKrk1 is not the Xenopus homologue of c-kit; however, it is expressed in a migrating stem cell population, the precursor cells for the mechanosensory lateral line system. XKrk1 is the first reported marker for lateral line stem cells.