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Mol Cell Biol. 2012 Feb;32(4):880-96. doi: 10.1128/MCB.06312-11. Epub 2011 Dec 12.

Dynamic, sex-differential STAT5 and BCL6 binding to sex-biased, growth hormone-regulated genes in adult mouse liver.

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  • 1Division of Cell and Molecular Biology, Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Sex-dependent pituitary growth hormone (GH) secretory patterns determine the sex-biased expression of >1,000 genes in mouse and rat liver, affecting lipid and drug metabolism, inflammation, and disease. A fundamental biological question is how robust differential expression can be achieved for hundreds of sex-biased genes simply based on the GH input signal pattern: pulsatile GH stimulation in males versus near-continuous GH exposure in females. STAT5 is an essential transcriptional mediator of the sex-dependent effects of GH in the liver, but the mechanisms that underlie its sex-dependent actions are obscure. Here we elucidate the dynamic, sex-dependent binding of STAT5 and the GH/STAT5-regulated repressor BCL6 to mouse liver chromatin genome wide, revealing a counteractive interplay between these two regulators of sex differences in liver gene expression. Our findings establish a close correlation between sex-dependent STAT5 binding and sex-biased target gene expression. Moreover, sex-dependent STAT5 binding correlated positively with sex-biased DNase hypersensitivity and H3-K4me1 and H3-K4me3 (activating) marks, correlated negatively with sex-biased H3-K27me3 (repressive) marks, and was associated with sex-differentially enriched motifs for HNF6/CDP factors. Importantly, BCL6 binding was preferentially associated with repression of female-biased STAT5 targets in male liver. Furthermore, BCL6 and STAT5 common targets but not BCL6 unique targets showed strong enrichment for lipid and drug metabolism. These findings provide a comprehensive, genome-wide view of the mechanisms whereby these two GH-regulated transcription factors establish and maintain sex differences affecting liver physiology and disease. The approaches used here to characterize sex-dependent STAT5 and BCL6 binding can be applied to other condition-specific regulatory factors and binding sites and their interplay with cooperative chromatin binding factors.

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