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Cells. 2020 Feb 24;9(2). pii: E523. doi: 10.3390/cells9020523.

MYC's Fine Line Between B Cell Development and Malignancy.

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Lymphocyte Development and Disease Group, Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute, IJC Building, Campus ICO-Germans Trias i Pujol, Ctra de Can Ruti, 08916 Barcelona, Spain.


The transcription factor MYC is transiently expressed during B lymphocyte development, and its correct modulation is essential in defined developmental transitions. Although temporary downregulation of MYC is essential at specific points, basal levels of expression are maintained, and its protein levels are not completely silenced until the B cell becomes fully differentiated into a plasma cell or a memory B cell. MYC has been described as a proto-oncogene that is closely involved in many cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma. Aberrant expression of MYC protein in these hematological malignancies results in an uncontrolled rate of proliferation and, thereby, a blockade of the differentiation process. MYC is not activated by mutations in the coding sequence, and, as reviewed here, its overexpression in leukemia and lymphoma is mainly caused by gene amplification, chromosomal translocations, and aberrant regulation of its transcription. This review provides a thorough overview of the role of MYC in the developmental steps of B cells, and of how it performs its essential function in an oncogenic context, highlighting the importance of appropriate MYC regulation circuitry.


B cell development; MYC; leukemia; lymphoma

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