V-myc myelocytomatosis viral oncogene homolog (avian)

Structure of the c-Myc (red) in complex with Max (blue) and DNA (PDB 1nkp). Both proteins are binding the major groove of the DNA by forming a fork-like structure.
Symbols MYC; MRTL; bHLHe39; c-Myc
External IDs OMIM190080 MGI97250 HomoloGene31092 GeneCards: MYC Gene
Species Human Mouse
Entrez 4609 17869
Ensembl ENSG00000136997 ENSMUSG00000022346
UniProt P01106 B2RSN1
RefSeq (mRNA) NM_002467.4 NM_010849
RefSeq (protein) NP_002458.2 NP_034979
Location (UCSC) Chr 8:
128.75 – 128.75 Mb
Chr 15:
61.82 – 61.82 Mb
PubMed search [1] [2]

Myc (c-Myc) is a regulator gene that codes for a transcription factor. In the human genome, Myc is located on chromosome 8 and is believed to regulate expression of 15% of all genes [1] through binding on Enhancer Box sequences (E-boxes) and recruiting histone acetyltransferases (HATs). This means that in addition to its role as a classical transcription factor, Myc also functions to regulate global chromatin structure by regulating histone acetylation both in gene-rich regions and at sites far from any known gene.[2]

A mutated version of Myc is found in many cancers, which causes Myc to be constitutively (persistently) expressed. This leads to the unregulated expression of many genes, some of which are involved in cell proliferation and results in the formation of cancer. A common translocation involving Myc is t(8;14) which is critical to the development of most cases of Burkitt's Lymphoma. A recent study demonstrated that temporary inhibition of Myc selectively kills mouse lung cancer cells, making it a potential cancer drug target.[3]



Myc gene was first discovered in Burkitt's lymphoma patients. In Burkitt's lymphoma, cancer cells show chromosomal translocations, in which Chromosome 8 is frequently involved. Cloning the break-point of the fusion chromosomes revealed a gene that was similar to myelocytomatosis viral oncogene (v-Myc). Thus, the newfound cellular gene was named c-Myc.


Myc protein belongs to Myc family of transcription factors, which also includes N-Myc and L-Myc genes. Myc family of transcription factors contain bHLH/LZ (basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper) domain. Myc protein, through its bHLH domain can bind to DNA, while the leucine zipper domain allows the dimerization with its partner Max, another bHLH transcription factor.

Myc mRNA contains an IRES (internal ribosome entry site) that allows the RNA to be translated into protein when 5' cap-dependent translation is inhibited, such as during viral infection.

Molecular Function

Myc protein is a transcription factor that activates expression of a great number of genes through binding on consensus sequences (Enhancer Box sequences (E-boxes)) and recruiting histone acetyltransferases (HATs). It can also act as a transcriptional repressor. By binding Miz-1 transcription factor and displacing the p300 co-activator, it inhibits expression of Miz-1 target genes. In addition, myc has a direct role in the control of DNA replication.[4]

Myc is activated upon various mitogenic signals such as Wnt, Shh and EGF (via the MAPK/ERK pathway). By modifying the expression of its target genes, Myc activation results in numerous biological effects. The first to be discovered was its capability to drive cell proliferation (upregulates cyclins, downregulates p21), but it also plays a very important role in regulating cell growth (upregulates ribosomal RNA and proteins), apoptosis (downregulates Bcl-2), differentiation and stem cell self-renewal. Myc is a very strong proto-oncogene and it is very often found to be upregulated in many types of cancers. Myc overexpression stimulates gene amplification,[5] presumably through DNA over-replication.

Animal Models

During the discovery of Myc gene, it was realized that chromosomes that translocate to Chromosome 8 contained immunoglobulin genes at the break-point. Enhancers that normally drive expression of immunoglobin genes now lead to overexpression of Myc proto-oncogene in lymphoma cells. To study the mechanism of tumorigenesis in Burkitt's lymphoma by mimicking expression pattern of Myc in these cancer cells, transgenic mouse models were developed. Myc gene placed under the control of IgM heavy chain enhancer in transgenic mice gives rise to mainly lymphomas. Later on, in order to study effects of Myc in other types of cancer, transgenic mice that overexpress Myc in different tissues (liver, breast) were also made. In all these mouse models overexpression of Myc causes tumorigenesis, illustrating the potency of Myc oncogene.


Myc has been shown to interact with NMI,[6] NFYC,[7] NFYB,[8] Cyclin T1,[9] RuvB-like 1,[10][11] GTF2I,[12] BRCA1,[6][13][14][15] T-cell lymphoma invasion and metastasis-inducing protein 1,[16] ACTL6A,[11] PCAF,[17] MYCBP2,[18] MAPK8,[19] Bcl-2,[20] Transcription initiation protein SPT3 homolog,[17] SAP130,[17] DNMT3A,[21] Mothers against decapentaplegic homolog 3,[22] MAX,[23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35] Mothers against decapentaplegic homolog 2,[22] MYCBP,[36] HTATIP,[37] ZBTB17,[38][39] Transformation/transcription domain-associated protein,[11][17][24][25] TADA2L,[17] PFDN5,[40][41] MAPK1,[20][42][43] TFAP2A,[44] P73,[45] TAF9,[17] YY1,[46] SMARCB1,[26] SMARCA4,[11][23] MLH1[27], EP400[10] and let-7.[47][48][49]

Overview of signal transduction pathways involved in apoptosis.


A major effect of Myc is B cell proliferation.[50]

c-Myc induces AEG-1 or MTDH gene expression and in turn itself requires AEG-1 oncogene for its expression.

See also



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