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Genes Dev. 1991 Jun;5(6):919-31.

Functional analysis and in vivo footprinting implicate the erythroid transcription factor GATA-1 as a positive regulator of its own promoter.

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  • 1Division of Hematology-Oncology, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.


Transcription of erythroid-expressed genes and normal erythroid development in vivo are dependent on a regulatory protein (GATA-1) that recognizes a consensus GATA motif. GATA-1 expression is itself restricted to erythroid progenitors and to two related hematopoietic lineages, megakaryocytes and mast cells. During cellular maturation the levels of GATA-1 RNA and protein increase progressively. In an effort to delineate mechanisms by which this pivotal transcription factor is itself regulated we have characterized the mouse GATA-1 gene and cis-elements within its promoter. We find that the isolated promoter retains cell specificity exhibited by the intact gene. Full promoter activity requires the presence of proximal CACCC box sequences and an upstream, double GATA motif that binds a single GATA-1 molecule in an asymmetric fashion. Using in vivo footprinting of mouse erythroleukemic cells we detect protein binding in vivo to both cis-elements. On the basis of these findings we propose that a positive feedback loop mediated through GATA-1 serves two complementary functions: maintenance of the differentiated state by locking the promoter into an "on" state, and programming the progressive increase in protein content throughout cellular maturation.

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