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Genes Dev. 2002 Oct 1;16(19):2530-43.

c-Myc is essential for vasculogenesis and angiogenesis during development and tumor progression.

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Department of Biochemistry, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee 38105, USA.


c-Myc promotes cell growth and transformation by ill-defined mechanisms. c-myc(-/-) mice die by embryonic day 10.5 (E10.5) with defects in growth and in cardiac and neural development. Here we report that the lethality of c-myc(-/-) embryos is also associated with profound defects in vasculogenesis and primitive erythropoiesis. Furthermore, c-myc(-/-) embryonic stem (ES) and yolk sac cells are compromised in their differentiative and growth potential. These defects are intrinsic to c-Myc, and are in part associated with a requirement for c-Myc for the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), as VEGF can partially rescue these defects. However, c-Myc is also required for the proper expression of other angiogenic factors in ES and yolk sac cells, including angiopoietin-2, and the angiogenic inhibitors thrombospondin-1 and angiopoietin-1. Finally, c-myc(-/-) ES cells are dramatically impaired in their ability to form tumors in immune-compromised mice, and the small tumors that sometimes develop are poorly vascularized. Therefore, c-Myc function is also necessary for the angiogenic switch that is indispensable for the progression and metastasis of tumors. These findings support the model wherein c-Myc promotes cell growth and transformation, as well as vascular and hematopoietic development, by functioning as a master regulator of angiogenic factors.

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