Gata2, Fli1, and Scl form a recursively wired gene-regulatory circuit during early hematopoietic development.
ABSTRACT: Conservation of the vertebrate body plan has been attributed to the evolutionary stability of gene-regulatory networks (GRNs). We describe a regulatory circuit made up of Gata2, Fli1, and Scl/Tal1 and their enhancers, Gata2-3, Fli1+12, and Scl+19, that operates during specification of hematopoiesis in the mouse embryo. We show that the Fli1+12 enhancer, like the Gata2-3 and Scl+19 enhancers, targets hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and relies on a combination of Ets, Gata, and E-Box motifs. We show that the Gata2-3 enhancer also uses a similar cluster of motifs and that Gata2, Fli1, and Scl are expressed in embryonic day-11.5 dorsal aorta where HSCs originate and in fetal liver where they multiply. The three HSC enhancers in these tissues and in ES cell-derived hemangioblast equivalents are bound by each of these transcription factors (TFs) and form a fully connected triad that constitutes a previously undescribed example of both this network motif in mammalian development and a GRN kernel operating during the specification of a mammalian stem cell.
Project description:The hemangioblast is a multipotential progenitor, which is derived from the mesoderm and can further differentiate into hematopoietic and endothelial lineages. The molecular mechanism governing the specification of hemangioblasts is fundamental to regenerative medicine based on embryonic stem cells for the treatment of various hematologic and vascular diseases. Here we show that aggf1 acts at the top of the genetic regulatory hierarchy in the specification of hemangioblasts in zebrafish. Knockdown of aggf1 expression decreases expression of endothelial cell-specific markers (cdh5, admr) and disrupts primitive hematopoiesis as shown by a decreased number of erythroid cells and reduced expression of gata1 (marker for erythroid progenitors) and pu.1 (myeloid progenitors). Aggf1 knockdown also decreases expression of runx1 and c-myb, indicating that it is required for specification of hematopoietic stem cells (definitive hematopoiesis). Aggf1 knockdown led to dramatically reduced expression of hemangioblast markers fli1, etsrp, lmo2, and scl, and hematopoietic/endothelial defects in aggf1 morphants were rescued by messenger RNA for scl, fli-vp16, or etsrp. Taken together, these data indicate that aggf1 is involved in differentiation of both hematopoietic and endothelial lineages and that aggf1 acts upstream of scl, fli1, and etsrp in specification of hemangioblasts.
Project description:C/EBP? is expressed preferentially in myeloid compared with lymphoid or erythroid cells and directs myeloid lineage specification. C/EBP? is also expressed at lower levels in HSCs and in several nonhematopoietic tissues. The Cebpa gene has a conserved, 450-bp segment at +37 kb that harbors enhancer-specific epigenetic marks and is activate in a myeloid cell line. Herein, we characterize transgenic C57BL/6 mice, in which the Cebpa enhancer and 845-bp promoter regulate a hCD4 reporter. FACS analysis, in vitro colony assays, and in vivo competitive and secondary transplantation revealed that myeloid but not MEPs or lymphoid progenitors and also functional LT-HSCs are found almost exclusively in the Cebpa-hCD4(+) compared with hCD4(-) marrow population. hCD4(+) CMP yielded predominantly myeloid, whereas hCD4(-) CMP generated mainly Meg/E colonies. Providing insight into control of CMP maturation, Cebpa and Pu.1 RNAs were preferentially expressed in hCD4(+) CMP, Scl, Gata2, Gata1, Klf1, Ets1, and Fli1 predominated in hCD4(-) CMP, and Runx1, Myb, HoxA9, and Erg levels were similar in both. Cebpa-hCD4 transgene expression was lacking in multiple nonhematopoietic tissues. In summary, the +37-kb Cebpa enhancer and promoter are sufficient for marrow myeloid progenitor and LT-HSC-specific expression.
Project description:Combinatorial regulation of gene expression is ubiquitous in eukaryotes with multiple inputs converging on regulatory control elements. The dynamic properties of these elements determine the functionality of genetic networks regulating differentiation and development. Here we propose a method to quantitatively characterize the regulatory output of distant enhancers with a biophysical approach that recursively determines free energies of protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions from experimental analysis of transcriptional reporter libraries. We apply this method to model the Scl-Gata2-Fli1 triad-a network module important for cell fate specification of hematopoietic stem cells. We show that this triad module is inherently bistable with irreversible transitions in response to physiologically relevant signals such as Notch, Bmp4 and Gata1 and we use the model to predict the sensitivity of the network to mutations. We also show that the triad acts as a low-pass filter by switching between steady states only in response to signals that persist for longer than a minimum duration threshold. We have found that the auto-regulation loops connecting the slow-degrading Scl to Gata2 and Fli1 are crucial for this low-pass filtering property. Taken together our analysis not only reveals new insights into hematopoietic stem cell regulatory network functionality but also provides a novel and widely applicable strategy to incorporate experimental measurements into dynamical network models.
Project description:The phlda3 gene encodes a small, 127-amino acid protein with only a PH domain, and is involved in tumor suppression, proliferation of islet ?-cells, insulin secretion, glucose tolerance, and liver injury. However, the role of phlda3 in vascular development is unknown. Here, we show that phlda3 overexpression decreases the expression levels of hemangioblast markers scl, fli1, and etsrp and intersegmental vessel (ISV) markers flk1 and cdh5, and disrupts ISV development in tg(flk1:GFP) and tg(fli1:GFP) zebrafish. Moreover, phlda3 overexpression inhibits the activation of protein kinase B (AKT) in zebrafish embryos, and the developmental defects of ISVs by phlda3 overexpression were reversed by the expression of a constitutively active form of AKT. These data suggest that phlda3 is a negative regulator of hemangioblast specification and ISV development via AKT signaling.
Project description:The oncogenic transcription factor Runx1 is required for the specification of definitive hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) in the developing embryo. The activity of this master regulator is tightly controlled during development. The transcription factors that upregulate the expression of Runx1 also upregulate the expression of Smad6, the inhibitory Smad, which controls Runx1 activity by targeting it to the proteasome. Here we show that Runx1, in conjunction with Fli1, Gata2, and Scl, directly regulates the expression of Smad6 in the aorta-gonad-mesonephros (AGM) region in the developing embryo, where HSCs originate. Runx1 regulates Smad6 activity via a novel upstream enhancer, and Runx1 null embryos show reduced Smad6 transcripts in the yolk-sac and c-Kit-positive fetal liver cells. By directly regulating the expression of Smad6, Runx1 sets up a functional rheostat to control its own activity. The perturbation of this rheostat, using a proteasomal inhibitor, results in an increase in Runx1 and Smad6 levels that can be directly attributed to increased Runx1 binding to tissue-specific regulatory elements of these genes. Taken together, we describe a scenario in which a key hematopoietic transcription factor controls its own expression levels by transcriptionally controlling its controller.
Project description:The fetal liver kinase 1 (FLK-1)(+) hemangioblast can generate hematopoietic, endothelial, and smooth muscle cells (SMCs). ER71/ETV2, GATA2, and SCL form a core transcriptional network in hemangioblast development. Transient coexpression of these three factors during mesoderm formation stage in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) robustly enhanced hemangioblast generation by activating bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and FLK-1 signaling while inhibiting phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, WNT signaling, and cardiac output. Moreover, etsrp, gata2, and scl inhibition converted hematopoietic field of the zebrafish anterior lateral plate mesoderm to cardiac. FLK-1(+) hemangioblasts generated by transient coexpression of the three factors (ER71-GATA2-SCL [EGS]-induced FLK-1(+)) effectively produced hematopoietic, endothelial, and SMCs in culture and in vivo. Importantly, EGS-induced FLK-1(+) hemangioblasts, when codelivered with mesenchymal stem cells as spheroids, were protected from apoptosis and generated functional endothelial cells and SMCs in ischemic mouse hindlimbs, resulting in improved blood perfusion and limb salvage. ESC-derived, EGS-induced FLK-1(+) hemangioblasts could provide an attractive cell source for future hematopoietic and vascular repair and regeneration.
Project description:Primitive erythropoiesis follows a stereotypic developmental program of mesoderm ventralization and internalization, hemangioblast formation and migration, and erythroid lineage specification. Induction of erythropoiesis is inefficient in either ES/iPS cells in vitro or nonhemangioblast cell populations in vivo. Using the chick model, we report that epiblast cells can be directly and efficiently differentiated into the erythroid lineage by expressing five hematopoietic transcription regulators (SCL+LMO2+GATA2+LDB1+E2A) and inhibiting the FGF pathway. We show that these five genes are expressed with temporal specificity during normal erythropoiesis. Initiation of SCL and LMO2 expression requires FGF activity, whereas erythroid differentiation is enhanced by FGF inhibition. The lag between hematopoiesis and erythropoiesis is attributed to sequential coregulator expression and hemangioblast migration. Globin gene transcription can be ectopically and prematurely induced by manipulating the availability of these factors and the FGF pathway activity. We propose that similar approaches can be taken for efficient erythroid differentiation in vitro.
Project description:The first haematopoietic stem cells share a common origin with the dorsal aorta and derive from putative adult haemangioblasts in the dorsal lateral plate (DLP) mesoderm. Here we show that the transcription factor (TF) stem cell leukaemia (Scl/Tal1) is crucial for development of these adult haemangioblasts in Xenopus and establish the regulatory cascade controlling its expression. We show that VEGFA produced in the somites is required to initiate adult haemangioblast programming in the adjacent DLP by establishing endogenous VEGFA signalling. This response depends on expression of the VEGF receptor Flk1, driven by Fli1 and Gata2. Scl activation requires synergy between this VEGFA-controlled pathway and a VEGFA-independent pathway controlled by Fli1, Gata2 and Etv2/Etsrp/ER71, which also drives expression of the Scl partner Lmo2. Thus, the two ETS factors Fli1 and Etv6, which drives the VEGFA expression in both somites and the DLP, sit at the top of the adult haemangioblast gene regulatory network (GRN). Furthermore, Gata2 is initially activated by Fli1 but later maintained by another ETS factor, Etv2. We also establish that Flk1 and Etv2 act independently in the two pathways to Scl activation. Thus, detailed temporal, epistatic measurements of key TFs and VEGFA plus its receptor have enabled us to build a Xenopus adult haemangioblast GRN.
Project description:Comprehensive analysis of cis-regulatory elements is key to understanding the dynamic gene regulatory networks that control embryonic development. While transgenic animals represent the gold standard assay, their generation is costly, entails significant animal usage, and in utero development complicates time-course studies. As an alternative, embryonic stem (ES) cells can readily be differentiated in a process that correlates well with developing embryos. Here, we describe a highly effective platform for enhancer assays using an Hsp68/Venus reporter cassette that targets to the Hprt locus in mouse ES cells. This platform combines the flexibility of Gateway® cloning, live cell trackability of a fluorescent reporter, low background and the advantages of single copy insertion into a defined genomic locus. We demonstrate the successful recapitulation of tissue-specific enhancer activity for two cardiac and two haematopoietic enhancers. In addition, we used this assay to dissect the functionality of the highly conserved Ets/Ets/Gata motif in the Scl+19 enhancer, which revealed that the Gata motif is not required for initiation of enhancer activity. We further confirmed that Gata2 is not required for endothelial activity of the Scl+19 enhancer using Gata2(-/-) Scl+19 transgenic embryos. We have therefore established a valuable toolbox to study gene regulatory networks with broad applicability.
Project description:The transcription factor Runx1/AML1 is an important regulator of hematopoiesis and is critically required for the generation of the first definitive hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in the major vasculature of the mouse embryo. As a pivotal factor in HSC ontogeny, its transcriptional regulation is of high interest but is largely undefined. In this study, we used a combination of comparative genomics and chromatin analysis to identify a highly conserved 531-bp enhancer located at position + 23.5 in the first intron of the 224-kb mouse Runx1 gene. We show that this enhancer contributes to the early hematopoietic expression of Runx1. Transcription factor binding in vivo and analysis of the mutated enhancer in transient transgenic mouse embryos implicate Gata2 and Ets proteins as critical factors for its function. We also show that the SCL/Lmo2/Ldb-1 complex is recruited to the enhancer in vivo. Importantly, transplantation experiments demonstrate that the intronic Runx1 enhancer targets all definitive HSCs in the mouse embryo, suggesting that it functions as a crucial cis-regulatory element that integrates the Gata, Ets, and SCL transcriptional networks to initiate HSC generation.