Differential expression of myc family genes during murine development

Nature. 1986 Feb 27-Mar 5;319(6056):780-3. doi: 10.1038/319780a0.


The myc family of cellular oncogenes contains three known members. The N-myc and c-myc genes have 5'-noncoding exons, strikingly homologous coding regions, and display similar oncogenic potential in an in vitro transformation assay. The L-myc gene is less well characterized, but shows homology to N-myc and c-myc (ref. 6; also see below). c-myc is expressed in most dividing cells, and deregulated expression of this gene has been implicated in the development of many classes of tumours. In contrast, expression of N-myc has been found only in a restricted set of tumours, most of which show neural characteristics; these include human neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma and small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC). L-myc expression has so far been found only in SCLC. Activated N-myc and L-myc expression has been implicated in oncogenesis; for example, although N-myc expression has been found in all neuroblastomas tested, activated (greatly increased) N-myc expression, resulting from gene amplification, is correlated with progression of the tumour. We now report that high-level expression of N- and L-myc is very restricted with respect to tissue and stage in the developing mouse, while that of c-myc is more generalized. Furthermore, we demonstrate that N-myc is not simply a neuroectoderm-specific gene; both N- and L-myc seem to be involved in the early stages of multiple differentiation pathways. Our findings suggest that differential myc gene expression has a role in mammalian development and that the normal expression patterns of these genes generally predict the types of tumours in which they are expressed or activated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Leukemia Virus, Murine
  • Mice / genetics*
  • Mice / growth & development
  • Oncogenes*
  • Plasmacytoma / genetics
  • RNA / analysis
  • Tissue Distribution


  • RNA