The ordered assembly of a functional preinitiation complex (PIC), composed of general transcription factors (GTFs) is a prerequisite for the transcription of protein coding genes by RNA polymerase II. TFIID, comprised of the TATA binding protein (TBP) and 13 TBP-associated factors (TAFs), is the GTF that is thought to recognize the promoter sequences allowing site-specific PIC assembly. Transcriptional cofactors, such as SAGA (Spt-Ada-Gcn5-acetyltransferase), are also necessary to have tightly regulated transcription initiation. However, a new era on the role of the GTFs and specifically on the role of TFIID in tissue specific and promoter specific transcriptional regulation has emerged in the light of novel findings regarding the differentiation programs of different cell types1.

TAF10 is a subunit of both the TFIID and the SAGA co-activator HAT complexes2. The role of TAF10 is indispensable for early embryonic transcription and mouse development as knockout (KO) embryos die early in gestation between E3.5 and E5.5, around the stage when the supply of maternal protein becomes insufficient3. However, when analyzing TFIID stability and transcription it was noted that not all cells and tissues were equally affected by the loss of TAF10.

The contribution of the two TAF10-containing complexes (TFIID, SAGA) to erythropoiesis remains elusive. Ablation of TAF10 specifically in erythroid cells by crossing the TAF10-Lox with the EpoR-Cre mouse led to a differentiation block at around E13.5 with erythroid progenitor cells accumulating at a higher percentage (26% in the KO embryos vs 16% in the WTs at E12.5) at the double positive stage KIT+CD71+ and giving rise to fewer mature TER119+ cells in the fetal liver. At E13.5 embryos were dead with almost no erythroid cells in the fetal liver. Gene expression analysis of the fetal liver cells of the embryos revealed down-regulation of GATA1 expression and its target genes, bh1&bmaj/min globins and KLF1 transcription factor while expression of other genes known to have a role in mouse hematopoiesis remained unaffected (MYB, GATA2, PU.1). In order to get insight to the role of TAF10 during erythropoiesis we analyzed the composition of both TAF10-containing complexes (TFIID and SAGA) by mass spectrometry. We found that their stoichiometry changes slightly but not fundamentally during erythroid differentiation and development (human fetal liver erythroid progenitors, human blood erythroid progenitors and mouse erythroid progenitor cells) and no major rearrangements were generated in the composition of the TFIID as it was reported in other cell differentiation programs (e.g. skeletal differentiation, hepatogenesis). Additionally, we found GATA1 transcription factor only in the fetal liver and not in the adult erythroid cells in the mass spectrometry data of TAF10 immunoprecipitations (IPs), an interaction that we confirmed by reciprocal IP of TAF10 and GATA1 in MEL and mouse fetal liver cells. Most importantly, we checked whether TAF10 binding is enriched on the GATA1 locus in human erythroid cells during the fetal and the adult stage in erythroid proerythroblasts and we found that there is enriched binding of TAF10 in the palindromic GATA1 site in the fetal stage. Our results support a developmental role for TAF10 in GATA1 regulated genes, including GATA1 itself, during erythroid differentiation emphasizing the crosstalk between the transcriptional machinery and activators in erythropoiesis.


1. Goodrich JA, Tjian R (2010) Unexpected roles for core promoter recognition factors in cell-type-specific transcription and gene regulation. Nature reviews Genetics 11: 549-558

2 .Timmers HT, Tora L (2005) SAGA unveiled. Trends Biochem Sci 30: 7-10

3. Mohan WS, Jr., Scheer E, Wendling O, Metzger D, Tora L (2003) TAF10 (TAF(II)30) is necessary for TFIID stability and early embryogenesis in mice. Mol Cell Biol 23: 4307-4318


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.