Investigating the role of mRNA capping enzyme in C-MYC function

  • Olivia Lombardi

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    C-MYC is a transcription factor and a potent driver of many human cancers. In addition to regulating transcription, C-MYC promotes formation of the mRNA cap which is important for transcript maturation and translation. However, the mechanistic details of C-MYC-dependent mRNA capping are not fully understood. Since anti-cancer strategies to directly target the C-MYC protein have had limited success, enzymatic co-factors or effectors of C-MYC present attractive alternatives for therapeutic intervention of C-MYC-driven cancers. mRNA capping enzyme (CE) initiates mRNA cap formation by catalysing the linkage of inverted guanosine via a triphosphate bridge to the first transcribed nucleotide. The involvement of CE in C-MYC-dependent mRNA capping and C-MYC function has not yet been explored. Therefore, I sought to determine whether C-MYC regulates CE, and whether CE is required for C-MYC function.

    I found that C-MYC promotes CE recruitment to RNA polymerase II (RNA pol II) transcription complexes and to regions proximal to transcription start sites on chromatin. Consistently, C-MYC increases RNA pol II-associated CE activity. Interestingly, cells driven by C-MYC are highly dependent on CE for C-MYC-induced target gene expression and cell transformation, but only when C-MYC is overexpressed; C-MYC-independent cells or cells retaining normal control of C-MYC expression are insensitive to CE inhibition. C-MYC expression is also dependent on CE. Taken together, I present a bidirectional regulatory relationship between C-MYC and CE which is potentially therapeutically relevant. Studies here strongly suggest that inhibiting CE is an attractive strategy to selectively target cancer cells which have acquired deregulated C-MYC.
    Date of Award2017
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
    SupervisorVictoria Cowling (Supervisor)


    • C-MYC
    • mRNA capping
    • Transcription
    • RNA polymerase II
    • Capping enzyme
    • Breast cancer
    • Oncogene

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