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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2003 Aug 15;416(2):129-36.

The many faces of c-MYC.

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  • 1Molecular Medicine, Biomedical Research Institute, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK.


The proto-oncogene c-MYC is implicated in various physiological processes-cell growth, proliferation, loss of differentiation, and cell death (apoptosis). Oncogenic c-MYC implies constitutive or deregulated expression of c-MYC and is associated with many human cancers often with poor prognosis. Recently, c-MYC has been implicated in the loss and dysfunction of insulin-producing beta cells in diabetes. Intriguingly, this raises the possibility that c-Myc may be a key contributor to disease, not only by deregulating cell proliferation, which is well established, but also by virtue of its opposing role in engendering apoptosis. However, given the fact that human diseases at diagnosis are generally advanced and pathologically complex, it is generally difficult to attribute a specific pathogenic role to c-MYC, or indeed any given single factor, or to assess the potential of therapies targeting individual such factors. Regulatable transgenic mouse models have shed light on these issues, have influenced our thinking about cancer, and have provided encouragement for the future development of cancer therapies based on targeting individual oncogenes such as c-MYC. Although still in its infancy, encouraging results have been reported for several approaches using gene targeting to interfere with c-MYC expression or activity both in vitro and in vivo.

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