Transcriptional activation of human ζ2 globin promoter by the α globin regulatory element (HS-40): Functional role of specific nuclear factor-DNA complexes

Q. Zhang, P. M.S. Reddy, C. Y. Yu, C. Bastiani, D. Higgs, G. Stamatoyannopoulos, T. Papayannopoulou, C. K.J. Shen

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37 Citations (Scopus)


We studied the functional interaction between human embryonic ζ2 globin promoter and the α globin regulatory element (HS-40) located 40 kb upstream of the ζ2 globin gene. It was shown by transient expression assay that HS- 40 behaved as an authentic enhancer for high-level ζ2 globin promoter activity in K562 cells, an erythroid cell line of embryonic and/or fetal origin. Although sequences located between -559 and -88 of the ζ2 globin gene were dispensable for its expression on enhancerless plasmids, they were required for the HS-40 enhancer-mediated activity of the ζ2 globin promoter. Site-directed mutagenesis demonstrated that this HS-40 enhancer-ζ2 globin promoter interaction is mediated by the two GATA-1 factor binding motifs located at -230 and -104, respectively. The functional domains of HS-40 were also mapped. Bal 31 deletion mapping data suggested that one GATA-1 motif, one GT motif, and two NF-E2/AP1 motifs together formed the functional core of HS-40 in the erythroid-specific activation of the ζ2 globin promoter. Site- directed mutagenesis further demonstrated that the enhancer function of one of the two NF-E2/AP1 motifs of HS-40 is mediated through its binding to NF- E2 but not AP1 transcription factor. Finally, we did genomic footprinting of the HS-40 enhancer region in K562 cells, adult nucleated erythroblasts, and different nonerythroid cells. All sequence motifs within the functional core of HS-40, as mapped by transient expression analysis, appeared to bind a nuclear factor(s) in living K562 cells but not in nonerythroid cells. On the other hand, only one of the apparently nonfunctional sequence motifs was bound with factors in vivo. In comparison to K562, nucleated erythroblasts from adult human bone marrow exhibited a similar but nonidentical pattern of nuclear factor binding in vivo at the HS-40 region. These data suggest that transcriptional activation of human embryonic ζ2 globin gene and the fetal/adult α globin genes is mediated by erythroid cell-specific and developmental stage-specific nuclear factor-DNA complexes which form at the enhancer (HS-40) and the globin promoters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2298-2308
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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