N-myc is a developmentally regulated proto-oncogene encoding a putative sequence-specific DNA-binding protein. Previous studies on tissue distribution of N-myc transcripts indicated that one of the major sites of N-myc expression is the CNS and neural crest derivatives in developing embryos. We investigated N-Myc protein expression in embryonic neural tissues and found that the protein was usually localized in the nucleus, but accumulated in the cytoplasm upon differentiation of specific classes of neurons, e.g., retinal ganglion cells, neurons of spinal ganglia, and Purkinje cells of the cerebellum. The change of localization of N-Myc from the nucleus to the cytoplasm indicates a novel feature of regulation of myc family proteins and suggests functions of N-myc in the cytoplasm of maturing neurons.
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