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Blood. 2002 Oct 15;100(8):2769-77.

Erythroid expansion mediated by the Gfi-1B zinc finger protein: role in normal hematopoiesis.

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Department of Immunology, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Tsukuba, and Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology of Japan Science and Technology, Japan.


In the search for genes expressed in hematopoietic stem cells, we identified that the expression of Gfi-1B (growth factor independence-1B) is highly restricted to hematopoietic stem cells, erythroblasts, and megakaryocytes. Gfi-1 and Gfi-1B are zinc finger proteins that share highly conserved SNAG and 6 zinc finger domains. Gfi-1 has been characterized as an oncogene involved in lymphoid malignancies in mice. In contrast, role of Gfi-1B in hematopoiesis has not been well characterized. In this study, we analyzed its function in human hematopoiesis. Enforced expression of Gfi-1B in human CD34(+) hematopoietic progenitors induced a drastic expansion of erythroblasts in an erythropoietin-independent manner. Expression of Gfi-1B did not promote erythroid commitment, but enhanced proliferation of immature erythroblasts. Erythroblasts expanded by exogenous Gfi-1B, however, failed to differentiate beyond proerythroblast stage and showed massive apoptosis. These biologic effects of Gfi-1B were mediated through its zinc finger domain, but not by the SNAG or non-zinc finger domain. Proliferation of erythroblasts was associated with sustained expression of GATA-2 but not of GATA-1, indicating a potential link between Gfi-1B and GATA family regulators. Importantly, the function of Gfi-1B to modulate transcription was dependent on promoter context. In addition, activation of transcription of an artificial promoter was mediated through its zinc finger domain. These findings establish Gfi-1B as a novel erythroid regulator and reveal its specific involvement in the regulation of erythroid cell growth through modulating erythroid-specific gene expression.

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