The myc oncogene: MarvelouslY Complex

Adv Cancer Res. 2002;84:81-154. doi: 10.1016/s0065-230x(02)84004-0.


The activated product of the myc oncogene deregulates both cell growth and death check points and, in a permissive environment, rapidly accelerates the affected clone through the carcinogenic process. Advances in understanding the molecular mechanism of Myc action are highlighted in this review. With the revolutionary developments in molecular diagnostic technology, we have witnessed an unprecedented advance in detecting activated myc in its deregulated, oncogenic form in primary human cancers. These improvements provide new opportunities to appreciate the tumor subtypes harboring deregulated Myc expression, to identify the essential cooperating lesions, and to realize the therapeutic potential of targeting Myc. Knowledge of both the breadth and depth of the numerous biological activities controlled by Myc has also been an area of progress. Myc is a multifunctional protein that can regulate cell cycle, cell growth, differentiation, apoptosis, transformation, genomic instability, and angiogenesis. New insights into Myc's role in regulating these diverse activities are discussed. In addition, breakthroughs in understanding Myc as a regulator of gene transcription have revealed multiple mechanisms of Myc activation and repression of target genes. Moreover, the number of reported Myc regulated genes has expanded in the past few years, inspiring a need to focus on classifying and segregating bona fide targets. Finally, the identity of Myc-binding proteins has been difficult, yet has exploded in the past few years with a plethora of novel interactors. Their characterization and potential impact on Myc function are discussed. The rapidity and magnitude of recent progress in the Myc field strongly suggests that this marvelously complex molecule will soon be unmasked.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Cycle
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / physiology*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Chromatin
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc