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Genes Dev. 2010 Apr 15;24(8):783-98. doi: 10.1101/gad.1897310.

Transcriptional silencing of {gamma}-globin by BCL11A involves long-range interactions and cooperation with SOX6.

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Children's Hospital Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The developmental switch from human fetal (gamma) to adult (beta) hemoglobin represents a clinically important example of developmental gene regulation. The transcription factor BCL11A is a central mediator of gamma-globin silencing and hemoglobin switching. Here we determine chromatin occupancy of BCL11A at the human beta-globin locus and other genomic regions in vivo by high-resolution chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-chip analysis. BCL11A binds the upstream locus control region (LCR), epsilon-globin, and the intergenic regions between gamma-globin and delta-globin genes. A chromosome conformation capture (3C) assay shows that BCL11A reconfigures the beta-globin cluster by modulating chromosomal loop formation. We also show that BCL11A and the HMG-box-containing transcription factor SOX6 interact physically and functionally during erythroid maturation. BCL11A and SOX6 co-occupy the human beta-globin cluster along with GATA1, and cooperate in silencing gamma-globin transcription in adult human erythroid progenitors. These findings collectively demonstrate that transcriptional silencing of gamma-globin genes by BCL11A involves long-range interactions and cooperation with SOX6. Our findings provide insight into the mechanism of BCL11A action and new clues for the developmental gene regulatory programs that function at the beta-globin locus.

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