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Immunity. 2010 Mar 26;32(3):317-28. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2010.02.008. Epub 2010 Mar 4.

Identification and characterization of enhancers controlling the inflammatory gene expression program in macrophages.

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Department of Experimental Oncology, European Institute of Oncology (IEO), IFOM-IEO Campus, Via Adamello 16, Milan, Italy.


Enhancers determine tissue-specific gene expression programs. Enhancers are marked by high histone H3 lysine 4 mono-methylation (H3K4me1) and by the acetyl-transferase p300, which has allowed genome-wide enhancer identification. However, the regulatory principles by which subsets of enhancers become active in specific developmental and/or environmental contexts are unknown. We exploited inducible p300 binding to chromatin to identify, and then mechanistically dissect, enhancers controlling endotoxin-stimulated gene expression in macrophages. In these enhancers, binding sites for the lineage-restricted and constitutive Ets protein PU.1 coexisted with those for ubiquitous stress-inducible transcription factors such as NF-kappaB, IRF, and AP-1. PU.1 was required for maintaining H3K4me1 at macrophage-specific enhancers. Reciprocally, ectopic expression of PU.1 reactivated these enhancers in fibroblasts. Thus, the combinatorial assembly of tissue- and signal-specific transcription factors determines the activity of a distinct group of enhancers. We suggest that this may represent a general paradigm in tissue-restricted and stimulus-responsive gene regulation.

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