The MYCN gene is a member of the MYC family of transcription factors and encodes a protein with a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) domain. This protein is located in the cell nucleus and must dimerize with another bHLH protein in order to bind DNA. N-Myc is highly expressed in the fetal brain and is critical for normal brain development.
The MYCN gene has an antisense RNA, N-cym or MYCNOS, transcribed from the opposite strand which can be translated to form a protein product. N-Myc and MYCNOS are co-regulated both in normal development and in tumor cells, so it is possible that the two proteins are functionally related.
Amplification and overexpression of N-Myc can lead to tumorigenesis. Excess N-Myc is associated with a variety of tumors, most notably neuroblastomas where patients with amplification of the N-Myc gene tend to have poor outcomes.
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