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J Immunol. 2008 Oct 15;181(8):5660-72.

The vitamin D3/Hox-A10 pathway supports MafB function during the monocyte differentiation of human CD34+ hemopoietic progenitors.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.


Although a considerable number of reports indicate an involvement of the Hox-A10 gene in the molecular control of hemopoiesis, the conclusions of such studies are quite controversial given that they support, in some cases, a role in the stimulation of stem cell self-renewal and myeloid progenitor expansion, whereas in others they implicate this transcription factor in the induction of monocyte-macrophage differentiation. To clarify this issue, we analyzed the biological effects and the transcriptome changes determined in human primary CD34(+) hemopoietic progenitors by retroviral transduction of a full-length Hox-A10 cDNA. The results obtained clearly indicated that this homeogene is an inducer of monocyte differentiation, at least partly acting through the up-regulation of the MafB gene, recently identified as the master regulator of such a maturation pathway. By using a combined approach based on computational analysis, EMSA experiments, and luciferase assays, we were able to demonstrate the presence of a Hox-A10-binding site in the promoter region of the MafB gene, which suggested the likely molecular mechanism underlying the observed effect. Stimulation of the same cells with the vitamin D(3) monocyte differentiation inducer resulted in a clear increase of Hox-A10 and MafB transcripts, indicating the existence of a precise transactivation cascade involving vitamin D(3) receptor, Hox-A10, and MafB transcription factors. Altogether, these data allow one to conclude that the vitamin D(3)/Hox-A10 pathway supports MafB function during the induction of monocyte differentiation.

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