, Volume 64, Issue 22, pp 2975-2984
Date: 20 Oct 2007

Melanocyte fate in neural crest is triggered by Myb proteins through activation of c-kit

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The c-myb proto-oncogene and its oncogenic derivative v−myb AMV encode transcriptional regulators engaged in the commitment of hematopoietic cells. While the c-Myb protein is important for the formation and differentiation of various progenitors, the v−Myb AMV oncoprotein induces in chicks a progression and transformation of the single (monoblastic) cell lineage. Here we present the first evidence of cell fate-directing abilities of c-Myb and v−Myb AMV proteins in avian neural crest (NC), where both proteins determine melanocytogenesis. The increased concentration of c-Myb induces progression into dendritic melanocytes and differentiation. The v-myb oncogene converts essentially all NC cells into melanocytes and causes their transformation. Both Myb proteins activate in NC cells expression of the c-kit gene and stem cell factor c-Kit signaling – one of the essential pathways in melanocyte development. These observations suggest that the c-myb-c-kit pathway represents a common regulatory scheme for both hematopoietic and neural progenitors and establishes a novel experimental model for studies of melanocytogenesis and melanocyte transformation.