The transcription factor MYC regulates cell survival and growth, and its level is tightly controlled in normal cells. We report that serine pyrophosphorylation — a posttranslational modification triggered by inositol pyrophosphate signaling molecules — controls MYC levels via regulated protein degradation. We find that endogenous MYC is stabilized and less polyubiquitinated in cells with reduced inositol pyrophosphates. We show that the inositol pyrophosphate 5-IP7 transfers its high-energy beta phosphate moiety to pre-phosphorylated serine residues in the central PEST domain of MYC. Loss of serine pyrophosphorylation in the PEST domain lowers the extent of MYC polyubiquitination and increases its stability. Fusion to the MYC PEST domain lowers the stability of GFP, but this effect is dependent on the extent of PEST domain pyrophosphorylation. The E3 ubiquitin ligase FBW7 can bind directly to the PEST domain of MYC, and this interaction is exclusively dependent on serine pyrophosphorylation. A stabilized, pyrophosphorylation-deficient form of MYC increases cell death during growth stress in untransformed cells. Splenocytes from mice lacking IP6K1, a kinase responsible for the synthesis of 5-IP7, have higher levels of MYC, and show increased cell proliferation in response to mitogens, compared with splenocytes from wild type mice. Thus, control of MYC stability through a novel pyro-phosphodegron provides unexpected insight into the regulation of cell survival in response to environmental cues.

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