The transforming gene of avian myelocytomatosis virus MC29, v-myc, causes a variety of malignancies in chickens1. A cellular homologue 2, c-myc, has been implicated in B-cell malignancies in mice and humans3-6 but is also expressed in many normal cell types7 and may be important in the control of normal cell proliferation8, c-myc is highly conserved in vertebrates9. We have been investigating the relationship between c-myc expression and the terminal differentiation of cultured mouse erythroleukaemia (MEL) cells. We find that the level of c-myc messenger RNA shows a rapid biphasic change in MEL cells induced to differentiate by dimethyl sulphoxide or hypoxanthine. The changes occur during the first few hours of the differentiation programme and require active protein synthesis. These data suggest that changes in c-myc expression may be important in the irreversible commitment of MEL cells to terminal erythroid differentiation.
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