Elevated expression of c-myc and N-myc produces distinct changes in nuclear fine structure and chromatin organization

M. Henriksson, M. Classon, S. Ingvarsson, P. Koskinen, J. Sumegi, G. Klein, J. Thyberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The proto-oncogenes c-myc and N-myc encode nuclear phosphoproteins with unknown function. Here, c-myc or N-myc, or hybrid constructs of the two, were transfected into fibroblastic cells (CV-1) using SV40-based high expression vectors. The cells were studied by indirect immunofluorescence microscopy and transmission electron microscopy to determine the localization of the two myc proteins within the nucleus and their influence on nuclear fine structure and chromatin organization. In c-myc transfected cells the overproduced protein product accumulated in large amorphous globules that displaced the normal chromatin and did not stain for DNA. In N-myc transfected cells condensed chromatin loops were formed. They were attached to the nuclear envelope and by traction in the latter they may have contributed to give the nucleus its irregular shape in these cells. During mitosis the chromatin loops persisted as clearly identifiable entities within the chromosomes, suggesting a rigid conformation that did not allow normal chromosome packaging. These findings suggest that the c-myc and N-myc proteins bind to different structures and may have different function. Observations on cells transfected with hybrid constructs indicated that both the second and third exon of c-myc were required to yield a product that behaved like the c-myc protein. In contrast, domains encoded by the second exon of N-myc were sufficient to give rise to a product that morphologically behaved like the N-myc protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-593
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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