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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Genetic and genomic analysis modeling of germline c-MYC overexpression and cancer susceptibility

Xavier Solé1, Pilar Hernández1, Miguel López de Heredia23, Lluís Armengol4, Benjamín Rodríguez-Santiago56, Laia Gómez1, Christopher A Maxwell1, Fernando Aguiló7, Enric Condom8, Jesús Abril2, Luis Pérez-Jurado569, Xavier Estivill4, Virginia Nunes1023, Gabriel Capellá1, Stephen B Gruber11, Víctor Moreno1* and Miguel Angel Pujana1*

Author Affiliations

1 Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Unit, and Translational Research Laboratory, Catalan Institute of Oncology, IDIBELL, L'Hospitalet, Barcelona, Spain

2 Medical and Molecular Genetics Center, IDIBELL, L'Hospitalet, Barcelona, Spain

3 CIBERER-U730, L'Hospitalet, Barcelona, Spain

4 Genes and Disease Program, Center for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona, Spain

5 Genetics Unit, Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

6 CIBERER-U735, Barcelona, Spain

7 Department of Urology, Bellvitge Hospital University, IDIBELL, L'Hospitalet, Barcelona, Spain

8 Department of Pathology, Bellvitge Hospital University, IDIBELL, L'Hospitalet, Barcelona, Spain

9 Program in Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Vall d'Hebron University Hospital, Barcelona, Spain

10 Genetic Unit, Department of Physiology II, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

11 Departments of Epidemiology, Internal Medicine and Human Genetics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:12  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-12

Published: 11 January 2008



Germline genetic variation is associated with the differential expression of many human genes. The phenotypic effects of this type of variation may be important when considering susceptibility to common genetic diseases. Three regions at 8q24 have recently been identified to independently confer risk of prostate cancer. Variation at 8q24 has also recently been associated with risk of breast and colorectal cancer. However, none of the risk variants map at or relatively close to known genes, with c-MYC mapping a few hundred kilobases distally.


This study identifies cis-regulators of germline c-MYC expression in immortalized lymphocytes of HapMap individuals. Quantitative analysis of c-MYC expression in normal prostate tissues suggests an association between overexpression and variants in Region 1 of prostate cancer risk. Somatic c-MYC overexpression correlates with prostate cancer progression and more aggressive tumor forms, which was also a pathological variable associated with Region 1. Expression profiling analysis and modeling of transcriptional regulatory networks predicts a functional association between MYC and the prostate tumor suppressor KLF6. Analysis of MYC/Myc-driven cell transformation and tumorigenesis substantiates a model in which MYC overexpression promotes transformation by down-regulating KLF6. In this model, a feedback loop through E-cadherin down-regulation causes further transactivation of c-MYC.


This study proposes that variation at putative 8q24 cis-regulator(s) of transcription can significantly alter germline c-MYC expression levels and, thus, contribute to prostate cancer susceptibility by down-regulating the prostate tumor suppressor KLF6 gene.