The MYC gene encodes the protein with the same name, and has an important role in many cellular processes such as proliferation, metabolism, cell death and the potential of differentiation from immature stem cells to different types of specialized cells. Importantly it is also one of the most frequently activated genes in human cancer.
Previously MYC has been shown to promote proliferation and inhibit differentiation in dissociated cells in culture. However, in the current study researchers demonstrate that in the intact neural tissue from chickens, MYC promotes differentiation of neural cells rather than their proliferation.
“We hope that this news knowledge can be important for developing future strategies to promote nerve cell development, for example in patients with spinal cord injuries,” says principal investigator Marie Arsenian Henriksson, professor at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology at Karolinska Institutet.