The oncogene c-myc encodes a transcription factor that has long been considered essential to liver regeneration, the process by which fully differentiated hepatocytes proliferate in an attempt to maintain a normal functional mass in response to hepatic injury. Experimental liver regeneration can be induced upon 70% partial hepatectomy and is accompanied by an increase in c-myc expression accompanying the synchronous entry of remaining hepatocytes into the cell cycle. Because liver regeneration is an essential process for achieving liver homeostasis, therapies directed at reducing MYC expression in hepatocellular carcinoma are fraught with the theoretical possibility of injuring adjacent noncancerous liver cells, thereby restricting the liver's normal regenerative response to injury. To determine if intact c-myc is required for liver regeneration, we reduced hepatic c-myc in c-myc mice using an adenoviral vector that expresses Cre recombinase. Despite a 90% decrease in hepatic expression of c-myc, restoration of liver mass 7 days later was not compromised. Reconstituted liver retained the same decrease in hepatic c-myc, indicating that hepatocytes deficient in c-myc were able to proliferate in response to partial hepatectomy. Although c-myc is required for embryonic development, our findings indicate that it is not required for the maintenance of the adult liver.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research