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Development. 1995 Jan;121(1):163-72.

Development of hematopoietic cells lacking transcription factor GATA-1.

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  • 1Department of Genetics and Development, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032.


GATA-1 is a zinc-finger transcription factor believed to play an important role in gene regulation during the development of erythroid cells, megakaryocytes and mast cells. Other members of the GATA family, which can bind to the same DNA sequence motif, are co-expressed in several of these hemopoietic lineages, raising the possibility of overlap in function. To examine the specific roles of GATA-1 in hematopoietic cell differentiation, we have tested the ability of embryonic stem cells, carrying a targeted mutation in the X-linked GATA-1 gene, to contribute to various blood cell types when used to produce chimeric embryos or mice. Previously, we reported that GATA-1- mutant cells failed to contribute to the mature red blood cell population, indicating a requirement for this factor at some point in the erythroid lineage (L. Pevny et al., (1991) Nature 349, 257-260). In this study, we have used in vitro colony assays to identify the stage at which mutant erythroid cells are affected, and to examine the requirement for GATA-1 in other lineages. We found that the development of erythroid progenitors in embryonic yolk sacs was unaffected by the mutation, but that the cells failed to mature beyond the proerythroblast stage, an early point in terminal differentiation. GATA-1- colonies contained phenotypically normal macrophages, neutrophils and megakaryocytes, indicating that GATA-1 is not required for the in vitro differentiation of cells in these lineages. GATA-1- megakaryocytes were abnormally abundant in chimeric fetal livers, suggesting an alteration in the kinetics of their formation or turnover. The lack of a block in terminal megakaryocyte differentiation was shown by the in vivo production of platelets expressing the ES cell-derived GPI-1C isozyme. The role of GATA-1 in mast cell differentiation was examined by the isolation of clonal mast cell cultures from chimeric fetal livers. Mutant and wild-type mast cells displayed similar growth and histochemical staining properties after culture under conditions that promote the differentiation of cells resembling mucosal or serosal mast cells. Thus, the mast and megakaryocyte lineages, in which GATA-1 and GATA-2 are co-expressed, can complete their maturation in the absence of GATA-1, while erythroid cells, in which GATA-1 is the predominant GATA factor, are blocked at a relatively early stage of maturation.

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