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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Apr 16;93(8):3514-8.

Complexity of the erythroid transcription factor NF-E2 as revealed by gene targeting of the mouse p18 NF-E2 locus.

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Division of Hematology-Oncology, Children's Hospital, Dana Division of Hematology-Oncology, Children's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


High-level globin expression in erythroid precursor cells depends on the integrity of NF-E2 recognition sites, transcription factor AP-1-like protein-binding motifs, located in the upstream regulatory regions of the alpha- and beta-globin loci. The NF-E2 transcription factor, which recognizes these sites, is a heterodimer consisting of (i) p45 NF-E2 (the larger subunit), a hematopoietic-restricted basic leucine zipper protein, and (ii) a widely expressed basic leucine zipper factor, p18 NF-E2, the smaller subunit. p18 NF-E2 protein shares extensive homology with the maf protooncogene family. To determine an in vivo role for p18 NF-E2 protein we disrupted the p18 NF-E2-encoding gene by homologous recombination in murine embryonic stem cells and generated p18 NF-E2-/- mice. These mice are indistinguishable from littermates throughout all phases of development and remain healthy in adulthood. Despite the absence of expressed p18 NF-E2, DNA-binding activity with the properties of the NF-E2 heterodimer is present in fetal liver erythroid cells of p18 NF-E2-/- mice. We speculate that another member of the maf basic leucine zipper family substitutes for the p18 subunit in a complex with p45 NF-E2. Thus, p18 NF-E2 per se appears to be dispensable in vivo.

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