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Mol Cell Biol. May 1987; 7(5): 1638–1645.
PMCID: PMC365263

Neoplastic transformation by the human gene N-myc.


Amplification and abundant expression of a gene known as N-myc are found frequently in advanced stages of human neuroblastoma and may play a role in the genesis of several malignant human tumors. Previous studies have shown that N-myc can cooperate with a mutant allele of the proto-oncogene c-Ha-ras to transform embryonic rat cells in culture. Here we show that N-myc can also act alone to elicit neoplastic growth of an established line of rat fibroblasts (Rat-1). We used recombinant DNA vectors to express either N-myc or its kindred gene c-myc in transfected cells. Both genes caused morphological transformation, anchorage-independent growth, and tumorigenicity. We noticed two variables that appeared to influence the ability to isolate cells transformed by N-myc and c-myc: the abundance in which the genes were expressed and biological selection to eliminate untransformed cells from the cultures. Our findings sustain the belief that N-myc is an authentic proto-oncogene, lend further credibility to the role of N-myc in the genesis of human tumors, and establish a convenient assay that can be used to explore further the properties of both N-myc and c-myc.

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