c-myc oncoprotein function

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1991 Dec 10;1072(2-3):103-13. doi: 10.1016/0304-419x(91)90009-a.


Genetic alterations of the c-myc locus in various malignancies and the ability of c-myc to transform cultured cells and induce tumors in transgenic animals attest to its central role in many neoplasms. By dissecting the c-Myc protein, a number of critical functional domains of c-Myc have been identified and characterized; these findings suggest a model for c-Myc function and intracellular activity (Fig. 4). c-Myc is synthesized in the cytoplasm and undergoes oligomerization another protein such as Max. Its nuclear localization signal allows c-Myc to be targeted to and retained in the nucleus, where the protein seeks out and binds to specific DNA sites, perhaps facilitated by c-Myc's ability to bind non-specifically to DNA. Once bound to specific DNA sequences, c-Myc then activates or inhibits transcription of a number of target genes, with consequent alterations in cell growth and differentiation. Continued studies of c-Myc and its partner Max should further elucidate the mechanisms by which c-Myc can contribute both to the regulation of normal cell growth and the alteration in that regulation in neoplasia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Nucleus / physiology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leucine Zippers / physiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / physiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc