MYC as therapeutic target in leukemia and lymphoma
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AuthorCortiguera Ruiz, María Gabriela; Batlle López, Ana; Albajar Molera, Marta; Delgado Villar, María Dolores; León Serrano, Javier
MYC is a transcription factor that is involved in the expression of many genes. Deregulated MYC is found in about half of human tumors, being more prevalent in hematological neoplasms. Deregulation mechanisms include chromosomal translocation (particularly in lymphoma), amplification, and hyperactivation of MYC transcription. Here we review MYC involvement in the major types of leukemia and lymphoma. MYC rearrangements appear in all Burkitt lymphomas and are common in other lymphoma types, whereas in acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, lymphoproliferative, and myeloproferative diseases, they are less frequent. However, MYC overexpression is present in all types of hematological malignancies and often correlates with a worse prognosis. Data in leukemia-derived cells and in animal models of lymphomagenesis and leukemogenesis suggest that MYC would be a good therapeutic target. Several MYC-directed therapies have been assayed in preclinical settings and even in clinical trials. First, peptides and small molecules that interrupt the MYC–MAX interaction impair MYC-mediated tumorogenesis in several mouse models of solid tumors, although not yet in lymphoma and leukemia models. Second, there are a number of small molecules inhibiting the interaction of MYC–MAX heterodimers with DNA, still in the preclinical research phase. Third, inhibitors of MYC expression via the inhibition of BRD4 (a reader of acetylated histones) have been shown to control the growth of MYC-transformed leukemia and lymphoma cells and are being used in clinic trials. Finally, we review a number of promising MYC-mediated synthetic lethal approaches that are under study and have been tested in hematopoietic neoplasms.