Sculpture by
Carolyn Chen

What is Myb?

(short answer)

    "Myb" is an acronym derived from "myeloblastosis", an old-fashioned name for a type of leukemia, a cancer of blood cells.  Alterations in the Myb genes of humans, rodents, and birds cause various types of cancer.  The proteins encoded by these Myb genes are present in the cell nucleus, bind directly to specific DNA sequences, and regulate cell growth and differentiation.  The hallmark of these proteins is a highly conserved DNA-binding domain composed of tandem repeats of a helix-turn-helix motif (light blue) that fit into the major groove of the DNA double helix (red and yellow).  Such Myb domains are present in a variety of proteins that regulate chromosomes and chromatin.  Our laboratory studies the Myb gene family using the tools of genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology.

[For a longer answer to this question, click here.]

The solution structure of the second and third repeats of the murine c-Myb DNA binding domain complexed to DNA was solved by NMR. The two Myb repeats form variant helix-turn-helix structures which lie head-to-tail within the major groove of the DNA double helix. The atomic coordinates were kindly provided by Drs. Ogata, Ishii, and Nomura and are available from PDB. This image was rendered with RASMOL, a free structure viewing program.
[Ogata, Morikawa, Nakamura, Sekikawa, Ioue, Kanai, Sarai, Ishii and Nishimura, Cell 79: 639-48 (1994).]