The basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor TAL1/SCL plays a critical role in hematopoiesis and vascular remodeling. A mouse Tal1 cDNA was first cloned from a bone marrow (BM) macrophage cDNA library, and we and others observed expression ofTal1 protein by BM mononuclear cells. To characterize Tal1 expression during monocyte/macrophage differentiation, we isolated common myeloid precursors (CMPs) from BM of 3-5 week old C57BL/6J mice and induced them to terminally differentiate according to a published method (

Genes & Dev.
). Using real-time PCR analysis,Tal1 mRNA was expressed in a biphasic pattern from CMP to post-mitotic macrophage, including lipopolysaccharide- and interferon-ã-activated macrophages. To elucidate Tal1’sfunctions in murine monocytopoiesis we deleted the Tal1 gene in murine BM monocytes and monocytic precursors in culture. To that end, C57BL/6 mice with loxP sequences flanking the third coding exon of Tal1 were bred with C57BL/6 mice with a lacZ gene replacing Tal1 coding exons 1, 2, and 3. Tal1fl/fl/lacZ progeny were identified by PCR genotyping, and BM mononuclear cells were cultured with mouse interleukin-3 and macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF). To render the cells Tal1-null, Cre coding sequences were introduced with the MSCV-GFP retroviral vector and GFP-positive cells were then sorted and cultured with M-CSF alone. Real-time PCR analysis showed near-total abolition of Tal1 mRNA expression in Cre-transduced relative to vector-transduced cells. Gene expression analysis for other transcripts showed an approximately 4-foldreduction in Gata2 expression over the same culture period but no difference in Aml1,PU.1, Csfr1, Msr1 (mouse scavenger receptor), Cd68, or Il6ra. Biologically, the most significant effect of Tal1 knockout was on cell number, which increased by 80% in control cells but not at all in Tal1-null cells. Transduction of wild-type BM monocytes with MSCV-GFP-Cre (or the parental MSCV-GFP) vector had no effect on cell proliferation, precluding any nonspecific or toxic effect of Cre (or retroviral infection) in this cell type. Dye dilution analysis of virus-transduced cells with the fluorescent membrane-intercalating dye PKH26 revealed a delay and absolute reduction in proliferation of Tal1-null compared to control cells. In contrast, little or no difference was noted in annexin V staining ofTal1-null compared to heterozygous knockout (knock-in) cells, indicating a lack of effect on apoptosis. Finally, serial analysis of CD31 and Ly6c expression in differentiating Tal1hemizygous and nullizygous BM monocytes showed that loss of Tal1 caused a slight acceleration in terminal monocyte-macrophage differentiation. In summary, these studies confirm our earlier finding that the Tal1 gene is expressed in differentiating mouse BMmonocytes. In addition, they reveal a novel function of this bHLH transcription factor in proliferation of murine monocyte/macrophage precursors. Finally, they place Tal1upstream of Gata2 in cells of this lineage.

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