Modelling the MYC-driven normal-to-tumour switch in breast cancer

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Disease Models & Mechanisms 2019 July; Vol 12(7); dmm038083



Lourenco C, Kalkat M, Houlahan KE, De Melo J, Longo J, Done S, Boutros PC, Penn LZ.


The potent MYC oncoprotein is deregulated in many human cancers, including breast carcinoma, and is associated with aggressive disease. To understand the mechanisms and vulnerabilities of MYC-driven breast cancer, we have generated an in vivo model that mimics human disease in response to MYC deregulation. MCF10A cells ectopically expressing a common breast cancer mutation in the phosphoinositide 3 kinase pathway (PIK3CAH1047R) led to the development of organised acinar structures in mice. Expressing both PIK3CAH1047R and deregulated MYC led to the development of invasive ductal carcinoma. Therefore, the deregulation of MYC expression in this setting creates a MYC-dependent normal-to-tumour switch that can be measured in vivo These MYC-driven tumours exhibit classic hallmarks of human breast cancer at both the pathological and molecular level. Moreover, tumour growth is dependent upon sustained deregulated MYC expression, further demonstrating addiction to this potent oncogene and regulator of gene transcription. We therefore provide a MYC-dependent model of breast cancer, which can be used to assay in vivo tumour signalling pathways, proliferation and transformation from normal breast acini to invasive breast carcinoma. We anticipate that this novel MYC-driven transformation model will be a useful research tool to better understand the oncogenic function of MYC and for the identification of therapeutic vulnerabilities.