Myc-Dependent Genome Instability and Lifespan in Drosophila

The Myc family of transcription factors are key regulators of cell growth and proliferation that are dysregulated in a large number of human cancers. When overexpressed, Myc family proteins also cause genomic instability, a hallmark of both transformed and aging cells. Using an in vivo lacZ mutation reporter, we show that overexpression of Myc in Drosophila increases the frequency of large genome rearrangements associated with erroneous repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). In addition, we find that overexpression of Myc shortens adult lifespan and, conversely, that Myc haploinsufficiency reduces mutation load and extends lifespan. Our data provide the first evidence that Myc may act as a pro-aging factor, possibly through its ability to greatly increase genome instability.