Human small-cell lung cancers show amplification and expression of the N-myc gene

M. M. Nau, B. J. Brooks, D. N. Carney, A. F. Gazdar, J. F. Battey, E. A. Sausville, J. D. Minna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

241 Scopus citations


We have found that 6 of 31 independently derived human small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines have 5- to 170-fold amplified N-myc gene sequences. The amplification is seen with probes from two separate exons of N-myc, which are homologous to either the second or the third exon of the c-myc gene. Amplified N-myc sequences were found in a tumor cell line started prior to chemotherapy, in SCLC tumor samples harvested directly from tumor metastases at autopsy, and from a resected primary lung cancer. Several N-myc-amplified tumor cell lines also exhibited N-myc hybridizing fragments not in the germ-line position. In one patient's tumor, an additional amplified N-myc DNA fragment was observed and this fragment was heterogenously distributed in liver metastases. In contrast to SCLC with neuronendocrine properties, no non-small-cell lung cancer lines examined were found to have N-myc amplification. Fragments encoding two N-myc exons also detect increased amounts of a 3.1-kilobase N-myc mRNA in N-myc-amplified SCLC lines and in one cell line that does not show N-myc gene amplification. Both DNA and RNA hybridization experiments show that in any one SCLC cell line, only one myc-related gene is amplified and expressed. We conclude that N-myc amplification is both common and potentially significant in the tumorigenesis or tumor progression of SCLC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1092-1096
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1986

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