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Transcriptional And Posttranscriptional Control Of C-myc During Myogenesis: Its MRNA Remains Inducible In Differentiated Cells And Does Not Suppress The Differentiated Phenotype.

T Endo, B Nadal-Ginard

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It is widely accepted that the cellular oncogene c-myc plays an important role in the control of cell proliferation and that its expression diminishes in differentiated cells. We examined whether there is a correlation between c-myc expression and cell proliferation or differentiation by using a subclone of a rat skeletal muscle cell line L6E9. Myoblasts irreversibly withdraw from the cell cycle, fuse to form multinucleated myotubes, and express muscle-specific genes (terminal differentiation). Muscle-specific genes can also be expressed in the absence of fusion (biochemical differentiation). Such mononucleated but biochemically differentiated cells can be stimulated to reenter the cell cycle. c-myc was induced by insulin, insulin-like growth factor, or serum factors in G0-arrested cells, whereas induction by protein synthesis inhibitors or superinduction by protein synthesis inhibitors in combination with serum factors occurred in all physiological states tested. We found that c-myc expression was reduced in biochemically and terminally differentiated cells as well as in quiescent undifferentiated cells but that it remained inducible by growth factors in all three physiological states. Results of nuclear runoff transcription assays suggested that the induction of c-myc mRNA by growth factors and its deinduction in these physiological states were regulated mainly at the transcriptional level. In contrast, induction and superinduction of c-myc mRNA by protein synthesis inhibitors alone and in combination with growth factors, respectively, were regulated posttranscriptionally mainly by stabilization of c-myc mRNA. Moreover, c-myc and muscle-specific genes could be simultaneously transcribed in both biochemically and terminally differentiated cells. These results indicate that irreversible repression of c-myc is not required for terminal myogenic differentiation and that its expression is insufficient by itself to suppress the differentiated phenotype.