Research from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden suggests that the expression of the so called MYC gene is important and necessary for neurogenesis in the spinal cord. The findings are being published in the journal EMBO Reports.
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.
The work was supported by grants from the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Cancer Society, the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and the European Research Council (ERC).
MYC proteins promote neuronal differentiation by controlling the mode of progenitor cell division, Nikolay Zinin, Igor Adameyko, Margareta Wilhelm, Nicolas Fritz, Per Uhlén, Patrik Ernfors & Marie Arsenian Henriksson, EMBO Reports, DOI: 10.1002/embr.201337424, published online 5 March 2014.