ARTICLE ABSTRACTPurpose: Gain-of-function mutations and KIT overexpression are well-known tumorigenesis mechanisms in gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). This study aimed to discover microRNAs (miRNA) that target KIT and reveal the relationship between the discovered miRNAs and KIT expression in GISTs.Experimental Design: Fresh-frozen GISTs from 31 patients were used to confirm the relationship between miR-494 and KIT expression using quantitative reverse transcription-PCR to assess miR-494 expression levels and Western blotting to assess KIT protein expression levels. A luciferase assay was conducted for the target evaluation. The functional effects of miR-494 on GIST882 cells (GIST cell line with activating KIT mutation) were validated by a cell proliferation assay and fluoresce-activated cell sorting analysis.Results: An inverse relationship was found between the expression levels of miR-494 and KIT in GISTs (r = −0.490, P = 0.005). The direct targeting of KIT by miR-494 was shown by the reduction in KIT expression after miR-494 overexpression and the increase in KIT expression after inhibiting endogenous miR-494 expression. We showed that miR-494 regulates KIT by binding two different seed match sites. Induced miR-494 overexpression in GIST882 reduced the expression of downstream molecules in KIT signaling transduction pathways, including phospho-AKT and phospho-STAT3. Finally, miR-494 overexpression provoked apoptosis and inhibited GIST cell growth, which were accompanied by changes in G1 and S phase content.Conclusion: Our findings indicate that miR-494 is a negative regulator of KIT in GISTs and overexpressing miR-494 in GISTs may be a promising approach to GIST treatment. Clin Cancer Res; 17(24); 7584–94. ©2011 AACR.