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Specification and differentiation of the megakaryocyte and erythroid lineages from a common bipotential progenitor provides a well studied model to dissect binary cell fate decisions. To understand how the distinct megakaryocyte- and erythroid-specific gene programs arise, we have examined the transcriptional regulation of the megakaryocyte erythroid transcription factor GATA1. Hemopoietic-specific mouse (m)GATA1 expression requires the mGata1 enhancer mHS-3.5. Within mHS-3.5, the 3' 179 bp of mHS-3.5 are required for megakaryocyte but not red cell expression. Here, we show mHS-3.5 binds key hemopoietic transcription factors in vivo and is required to maintain histone acetylation at the mGata1 locus in primary megakaryocytes. Analysis of GATA1-LacZ reporter gene expression in transgenic mice shows that a 25-bp element within the 3'-179 bp in mHS-3.5 is critical for megakaryocyte expression. In vitro three DNA binding activities A, B, and C bind to the core of the 25-bp element, and these binding sites are conserved through evolution. Activity A is the zinc finger transcription factor ZBP89 that also binds to other cis elements in the mGata1 locus. Activity B is of particular interest as it is present in primary megakaryocytes but not red cells. Furthermore, mutation analysis in transgenic mice reveals activity B is required for megakaryocyte-specific enhancer function. Bioinformatic analysis shows sequence corresponding to the binding site for activity B is a previously unrecognized motif, present in the cis elements of the Fli1 gene, another important megakaryocyte-specific transcription factor. In summary, we have identified a motif and a DNA binding activity likely to be important in directing a megakaryocyte gene expression program that is distinct from that in red cells.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





13733 - 13742


Animals, Base Sequence, Cell Line, Conserved Sequence, DNA-Binding Proteins, Enhancer Elements, Genetic, Erythrocytes, GATA1 Transcription Factor, Gene Expression Regulation, Introns, Megakaryocytes, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Transgenic, Molecular Sequence Data, Organ Specificity, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Protein Binding, Proto-Oncogene Protein c-fli-1, Transcription Factors