Cohesin depletion abrogates induction of dynamic erythroid transcriptional programmes.
Cohesin-dependent dynamic gene expression upon erythroid differentiation is both prespecified and repressed by Etv6 in stem cells.
Cohesin complex disruption alters gene expression, and cohesin mutations are common in myeloid neoplasia, suggesting a critical role in hematopoiesis. Here, we explore cohesin dynamics and regulation of hematopoietic stem cell homeostasis and differentiation. Cohesin binding increases at active regulatory elements only during erythroid differentiation. Prior binding of the repressive Ets transcription factor Etv6 predicts cohesin binding at these elements and Etv6 interacts with cohesin at chromatin. Depletion of cohesin severely impairs erythroid differentiation, particularly at Etv6-prebound loci, but augments self-renewal programs. Together with corroborative findings in acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome patient samples, these data suggest cohesin-mediated alleviation of Etv6 repression is required for dynamic expression at critical erythroid genes during differentiation and how this may be perturbed in myeloid malignancies.