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Keywords:

  • n-myc;
  • c-myc;
  • max;
  • development;
  • transcription

Abstract

N-Myc is a member of the Myc family of proteins, which are best known for their potent oncogenic activities and association with a large proportion of human cancers. Intense scrutiny of the oncogenic properties of Myc family proteins over the last several decades has revealed a great deal about their transcriptional and oncogenic activities. Myc proteins have broad effects on transcription and can stimulate a variety of cell behaviors that contribute to the malignant phenotype. N-Myc and c-Myc also play essential functions during embryonic development, and loss of these proteins has deleterious effects in most, if not all, tissues and organ systems. What remains to be fully unraveled is the relationship between the diverse activities associated with deregulated and overexpressed Myc and their normal roles during embryonic development and tissue homeostasis. In this review I summarize our understanding of the transcriptional activities of Myc family proteins and the roles of N-myc in morphogenesis, particularly as they relate to cellular proliferation and apoptosis. Birth Defects Research (Part C) 75:340–352, 2005. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.