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Exp Cell Res. 2006 Dec 10;312(20):4079-89. Epub 2006 Sep 22.

Tfe3 expression is closely associated to macrophage terminal differentiation of human hematopoietic myeloid precursors.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Sezione di Chimica Biologica, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 287, 41100, Modena, Italy.


The MItf-Tfe family of basic helix-loop-helix leucine zipper (bHLH-Zip) transcription factors encodes four family members: MItf, Tfe3, TfeB and TfeC. In vitro, each protein of the family binds DNA in a homo- or heterodimeric form with other family members. Tfe3 is involved in chromosomal translocations recurrent in different tumors and it has been demonstrated, by in vivo studies, that it plays, redundantly with MItf, an important role in the process of osteoclast formation, in particular during the transition from mono-nucleated to multi-nucleated osteoclasts. Since mono-nucleated osteoclasts derive from macrophages we investigated whether Tfe3 might play a role upstream during hematopoietic differentiation. Here we show that Tfe3 is able to induce mono-macrophagic differentiation of U937 cells, in association with a decrease of cell proliferation and an increase of apoptosis. We also show that Tfe3 does not act physiologically during commitment of CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), since it is not able to direct HSCs toward a specific lineage as observed by clonogenic assay, but is a strong actor of terminal differentiation since it allows human primary myeloblasts' maturation toward the macrophage lineage.

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