A critical role for Mnt in Myc-driven T-cell proliferation and oncogenesis

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Nov 27;109(48):19685-90. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1206406109. Epub 2012 Nov 12.


Mnt (Max's next tango) is a Max-interacting transcriptional repressor that can antagonize both the proproliferative and proapoptotic functions of Myc in vitro. To ascertain the physiologically relevant functions of Mnt and to help define the relationship between Mnt and Myc in vivo, we generated a series of mouse strains in which Mnt was deleted in T cells in the absence of endogenous c-Myc or in the presence of ectopic c-Myc. We found that apoptosis caused by loss of Mnt did not require Myc but that ectopic Myc expression dramatically decreased the survival of both Mnt-deficient T cells in vivo and Mnt-deficient MEFs in vitro. Consequently, Myc-driven proliferative expansion of T cells in vitro and thymoma formation in vivo were prevented by the absence of Mnt. Consistent with T-cell models, mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) lacking Mnt were refractory to oncogenic transformation by Myc. Tumor suppression caused by loss of Mnt was linked to increased apoptosis mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Thus, although theoretically and experimentally a Myc antagonist, the dominant physiological role of Mnt appears to be suppression of apoptosis. Our results redefine the physiological relationship between Mnt and Myc and requirements for Myc-driven oncogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • Mice
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / physiology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Mnt protein, mouse
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Repressor Proteins