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Members of the myconcogene family are often amplified or mutated in human tumours. In the March 15 EMBO Journal, Boon et al. described the use of a neuroblastoma cell line with an inducible N-myc allele to identify genes regulated by N-myc (EMBO Journal 2001, 20:1383-1393). They performed serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) to detect over a hundred genes up-regulated upon N-myc expression. The target genes included over 50 encoding ribosomal proteins, as well as key genes in rRNA maturation and ribosome assembly. Boon et al. also found a 45% higher rRNA content in cells expressing N-myc. Many of the identified N-myc target genes are also up-regulated in neuroblastomas with N-myc amplifications, and about 40% are also upregulated by the related c-myc transcription factor. Induction of the protein synthesis machinery by myc oncogenes may explain their role in regulating cell size.


  1. Function of the c-Myc oncogenic transcription factor.

  2. EMBO Journal, []

  3. Conditional expression of N-myc in human neuroblastoma cells increases expression of alpha-prothymosin and ornithine decarboxylase and accelerates progression into S-phase early after mitogenic stimulation of quiescent cells.

  4. Serial analysis of gene expression.

  5. c-Myc enhances protein synthesis and cell size during B lymphocyte development.

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Weitzman, J.B. N-myctargets. Genome Biol 2, spotlight-20010322-01 (2001).

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