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EMBO J. 1988 Apr;7(4):1023-9.

c-myc down-regulates class I HLA expression in human melanomas.

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Department of Clinical Oncology, Leiden University Hospital, The Netherlands.


Expression of class I HLA antigen has been shown to be reduced in a number of human tumours. Here we show that in a panel of 11 melanoma cell lines with variable class I HLA expression an inverse correlation exists between the mRNA levels of c-myc and class I HLA. This suggests that high expression of the c-myc oncogene might inhibit the class I HLA expression. To test this hypothesis a melanoma cell line with a low c-myc and high class I HLA mRNA expression was transfected with a c-myc expression vector. All clones expressing the transfected c-myc gene show reduced class I HLA mRNA and beta 2-microglobulin mRNA expression. Reduced class I HLA mRNA levels result in a lowered class I protein expression on the cell surface. Treatment with gamma-interferon fully restores the class I HLA and beta 2-microglobulin expression in these cells. This effect is preceded by a transient decrease of the c-myc mRNA level. These results show that the class I HLA expression is modulated by the level of c-myc expression, thus opening up the possibility that high expression of this oncogene influences the interaction of melanoma cells with the immune system.

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