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Open Access Research article

Postnatal liver growth and regeneration are independent of c-myc in a mouse model of conditional hepatic c-myc deletion

Jennifer A Sanders1*, Christoph Schorl23, Ajay Patel4, John M Sedivy23 and Philip A Gruppuso12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, Providence, RI 02903, USA

2 Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA

3 Center for Genomics and Proteomics, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA

4 Department of Pathology, MacNeal Hospital, Berwyn, IL, USA

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BMC Physiology 2012, 12:1  doi:10.1186/1472-6793-12-1

Published: 7 March 2012

Abstract

Background

The transcription factor c-myc regulates genes involved in hepatocyte growth, proliferation, metabolism, and differentiation. It has also been assigned roles in liver development and regeneration. In previous studies, we made the unexpected observation that c-Myc protein levels were similar in proliferating fetal liver and quiescent adult liver with c-Myc displaying nucleolar localization in the latter. In order to investigate the functional role of c-Myc in adult liver, we have developed a hepatocyte-specific c-myc knockout mouse, c-mycfl/fl;Alb-Cre.

Results

Liver weight to body weight ratios were similar in control and c-myc deficient mice. Liver architecture was unaffected. Conditional c-myc deletion did not result in compensatory induction of other myc family members or in c-Myc's binding partner Max. Floxed c-myc did have a negative effect on Alb-Cre expression at 4 weeks of age. To explore this relationship further, we used the Rosa26 reporter line to assay Cre activity in the c-myc floxed mice. No significant difference in Alb-Cre activity was found between control and c-mycfl/fl mice. c-myc deficient mice were studied in a nonproliferative model of liver growth, fasting for 48 hr followed by a 24 hr refeeding period. Fasting resulted in a decrease in liver mass and liver protein, both of which recovered upon 24 h of refeeding in the c-mycfl/fl;Alb-Cre animals. There was also no effect of reducing c-myc on recovery of liver mass following 2/3 partial hepatectomy.

Conclusions

c-Myc appears to be dispensable for normal liver growth during the postnatal period, restoration of liver mass following partial hepatectomy and recovery from fasting.