Protein-DNA interactions in vivo of an erythroid-specific, human β-globin locus enhancer

P. M.Sekhar Reddy, Che Kun James Shen

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45 Citations (Scopus)


The 5′ DNase I-hypersensitive site 2 (5′ HS-2) is an erythroid-specific enhancer located 11 kilobases (kb) upstream of the human β-globin gene cluster. Presence in cis of 5′ HS-2 confers a high level of erythroid cell-specific and developmentally regulated promoter activities of human globin genes in transfected cell cultures and in transgenic mice. Combining the use of the methylation protection assay and polymerase chain reaction, we have studied nuclear factor-DNA interactions of the 5′ HS-2 enhancer in vitro and in vivo. The data from analyses of three different sequence motifs within 5′ HS-2 represent three different modes of protein-DNA interaction with respect to cell-type specificities and in vivo vs. in vitro differences. First, a GATA-1 motif was found to bind nuclear factor(s), presumably the GATA-1 factor, present in K-562 cell extracts and in living K-562 cells. No such binding was seen in nonerythroid HeLa cells or extract. A second motif, NF-E2/AP1 (nuclear factor-erythroid 2/activator protein 1), consists of tandemly arranged dimers of API binding consensus. The presence of either HeLa extract or K-562 extract protects the NF-E2/AP1 motif from methylation, but the footprints are different. This is most likely due to different protein-DNA contacts of the AP1-DNA complex formed in HeLa extract and the NF-E2-DNA complex in K-562 extract. In vivo methylation protection patterns of this motif parallel those observed in vitro, suggesting that it is also bound by NF-E2 in K-562 cells and by AP1 in HeLa cells. Finally, a GT-I motif binds apparently to one or more similar factors in both types of nuclear extracts, but the in vivo methylation protection patterns are not identical between living HeLa and K-562 cells. These data provide direct evidence that specific nuclear factor-DNA complexes form in vivo at functionally important sequence motifs of the 5′ HS-2 enhancer in erythroid cells. The detection of conformationally different nuclear factor-DNA complexes at the same sequence motifs in HeLa and Raji cell lines also raises interesting questions regarding the origin and function of these complexes in nonerythroid cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8676-8680
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • GATA-1
  • Genomic footprinting
  • GT motif
  • Methylation protection
  • Nuclear factor-erythroid 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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