MYC phosphorylation at novel regulatory regions suppresses transforming activity

Cancer Res. 2013 Nov 1;73(21):6504-15. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-4063. Epub 2013 Sep 12.


Despite its central role in human cancer, MYC deregulation is insufficient by itself to transform cells. Because inherent mechanisms of neoplastic control prevent precancerous lesions from becoming fully malignant, identifying transforming alleles of MYC that bypass such controls may provide fundamental insights into tumorigenesis. To date, the only activated allele of MYC known is T58A, the study of which led to identification of the tumor suppressor FBXW7 and its regulator USP28 as a novel therapeutic target. In this study, we screened a panel of MYC phosphorylation mutants for their ability to promote anchorage-independent colony growth of human MCF10A mammary epithelial cells, identifying S71A/S81A and T343A/S344A/S347A/S348A as more potent oncogenic mutants compared with wild-type (WT) MYC. The increased cell-transforming activity of these mutants was confirmed in SH-EP neuroblastoma cells and in three-dimensional MCF10A acini. Mechanistic investigations initiated by a genome-wide mRNA expression analysis of MCF10A acini identified 158 genes regulated by the mutant MYC alleles, compared with only 112 genes regulated by both WT and mutant alleles. Transcriptional gain-of-function was a common feature of the mutant alleles, with many additional genes uniquely dysregulated by individual mutant. Our work identifies novel sites of negative regulation in MYC and thus new sites for its therapeutic attack.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • Colony-Forming Units Assay
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Human / metabolism
  • Mammary Glands, Human / pathology*
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Neuroblastoma / genetics
  • Neuroblastoma / metabolism
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MYC protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • RNA, Messenger