Direct interaction of hematopoietic transcription factors PU.1 and GATA- 1: Functional antagonism in erythroid cells

Natasha Rekhtman, Farshid Radparvar, Todd Evans, Arthur I. Skoultchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

397 Scopus citations


Malignant transformation usually inhibits terminal cell differentiation but the precise mechanisms involved are not understood. PU.1 is a hematopoietic-specific Ets family transcription factor that is required for development of some lymphoid and myeloid lineages. PU.1 can also act as an oncoprotein as activation of its expression in erythroid precursors by proviral insertion or transgenesis causes erythroleukemias in mice. Restoration of terminal differentiation in the mouse erythroleukemia (MEL) cells requires a decline in the level of PU.1, indicating that PU.1 can block erythroid differentiation. Here we investigate the mechanism by which PU.1 interferes with erythroid differentiation. We find that PU.1 interacts directly with GATA-1, a zinc finger transcription factor required for erythroid differentiation. Interaction between PU.1 and GATA-1 requires intact DNA-binding domains in both proteins. PU.1 represses GATA-l-mediated transcriptional activation. Both the DNA binding and transactivation domains of PU.1 are required for repression and both domains are also needed to block terminal differentiation in MEL cells. We also show that ectopic expression of PU.1 in Xenopus embryos is sufficient to block erythropoiesis during normal development. Furthermore, introduction of exogenous GATA-1 in both MEL cells and Xenopus embryos and explants relieves the block to erythroid differentiation imposed by PU.1. Our results indicate that the stoichiometry of directly interacting but opposing transcription factors may be a crucial determinant governing processes of normal differentiation and malignant transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1398-1411
Number of pages14
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Jun 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Differentiation
  • Erythropoiesis
  • GATA-1
  • Murine erythroleukemia
  • PU.1


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