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Recent evidence has shown that stem cell factor (SCF) and its receptor, c-Kit, have an important role in pancreatic islet development by promoting islet cell differentiation and proliferation. In this study, we examined the role of c-Kit and SCF in the differentiation and proliferation of insulin- and glucagon-producing cells using a human pancreatic duct cell line (PANC-1). Our study showed that increased expression of endocrine cell markers (such as insulin and glucagon) and transcription factors (such as PDX-1 and PAX-6) coincided with a decrease in CK19 and c-Kit cells (P0.001) during PANC-1 cell differentiation, determined by immunofluorescence and qRT-PCR. Cells cultured with exogenous SCF showed an increase in insulin (26%) and glucagon (35%) cell differentiation (P0.01), an increase in cell proliferation (P0.05) and a decrease in cell apoptosis (P0.01). siRNA knockdown of c-Kit resulted in a decrease in endocrine cell differentiation with a reduction in PDX-1 and insulin mRNA, as well as the number of cells immunostaining for PDX-1 and insulin. Taken together, these results show that c-Kit/SCF interactions are involved in mediating islet-like cluster formation and islet-like cell differentiation in a human pancreatic duct cell line. © 2010 USCAP, Inc All rights reserved.