The molecular mechanisms underlying developmental globin gene regulation remain incompletely understood. Prior studies have identified key cis-regulatory elements within the beta globin locus that contain core regions of closely spaced functional binding sites for GATA, NF-E2p45/maf and GT/GC box binding transcription factors. We recently identified the GT/GC-box binding transcription factor ZBP-89 as a novel GATA-1 interacting partner, and showed that it is involved in erythroid development in mice (Woo et al. 2008. Mol. Cell Bio. 28:2675-2689). Brand et al. independently isolated ZBP-89 in NF-E2p45/mafk complexes from induced mouse erythroid leukemia (MEL) cells (Brand et al. 2004. Nat. Struct. Mol Biol. 11:73-80). In the current study, we show that ZBP-89 protein levels increase during in vitro erythroid differentiation of human bone marrow derived CD34+ cells. This correlates with the onset of alpha and beta globin gene transcription. ChIP-chip studies using ENCODE v2.0 arrays demonstrate that ZBP-89 occupies key cis-regulatory elements within both the beta globin (locus control regions HS3, HS2; delta and beta proximal promoters; and an intergenic region between gamma1 and delta globin) and alpha globin (HS-48, HS-40, HS-10 and alpha globin proximal promoters) loci in primary human erythroid precursors. Comparative analysis across the entire ENCODE array reveals a strong positive correlation between ZBP-89 occupancy, RNA polymerase II occupancy, and the activating histone marks acetylated histone 3 (AcH3) and trimethylated histone 3 lysine 4 (H3K4me3); and a negative correlation with the repressive mark trimethylated histone 3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3). Motif analysis under the ZBP-89 occupancy peaks indicates a preference for GGGG(G/A)NGGGG in vivo binding sites. Lentiviral shRNA mediated knock down of ZBP-89 in the in vitro differentiated CD34+ cells results in 30–50% reduction of alpha-, gamma-, and beta-globin gene expression, as well as modestly decreased expression of a number of additional erythroid-specific genes. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrate physical association between ZBP-89 and the GCN5/Trapp histone acetyltransferase complex. Based on these findings, we propose that ZBP-89 participates with GATA-1 and NF-E2 in the final epigenetic changes required for high-level expression of globin and other erythroid genes in terminally differentiating human erythroid cells.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.