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Regulation and Function of the MYC Oncogene

  1. Manpreet Kalkat,
  2. Linda Z Penn

Published Online: 15 NOV 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0024149



How to Cite

Kalkat, M. and Penn, L. Z. 2013. Regulation and Function of the MYC Oncogene. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 NOV 2013


The MYC oncogene has been the subject of intense study for more than 30 years, due to its important role in tumourigenesis. MYC is a nuclear transcription factor that can regulate the expression of a multitude of target genes, and its expression in tumours is often associated with poor prognosis. Although decades of research have provided insights into its molecular function as a transcription factor, the mechanisms by which MYC can induce cellular transformation have remained elusive. In addition to the regulation of genes important for cell cycle progression, metabolism, apoptosis and angiogenesis, MYC has wide-reaching effects, including the alteration of cellular epigenetics and total ribonucleic acid (RNA) content. Recent reports have suggested that post-translational modification (PTM) of MYC is important for regulating the activity and functions of this potent oncogene; however, surprisingly, little research has been conducted in this area. Herein, the authors summarise recent findings regarding the molecular and biological functions of MYC and their relationship to the PTMs of MYC.

Key Concepts:

  • The MYC oncogene encodes a nuclear basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor.

  • MYC regulates a large number of transcriptional targets and can have wide-reaching effects on proliferation, the epigenome and total cellular RNA content.

  • MYC is essential for cellular proliferation and is a potent oncogene when it is deregulated in cancer.

  • Deregulated, often elevated, MYC levels have been shown to initiate tumourigenesis in many in vivo models.

  • MYC activity and stability is regulated by post-translational modifications, including phosphorylation, ubiquitylation and acetylation.


  • MYC;
  • oncogene;
  • cancer;
  • post-translational modification;
  • transcription;
  • tumourigenesis