Background: The GATA-1haematopoietic enhancer (G1HE), located between 3.9 and 2.6 kb 5' to the haematopoietic first exon, is essential for GATA-1 gene transcription in erythroid cells. However, G1HE is not sufficient to confer tissue specificity on the GATA-1 gene in vivo, indicating that additional regulatory sequences are necessary.
Results: We demonstrate here that two other upstream promoter elements containing a double GATA motif or two CACCC boxes are also indispensable for reporter gene expression in erythroid cells in the transgenic mouse. The combination of these three cis-acting regions was sufficient for reporter expression in primitive erythroid cells, as demonstrated by linking the elements together into a 659 bp artificial (GdC) minigene. The minigene activated the transcription of a reporter gene from either the endogenous or an exogenous thymidine kinase promoter, retaining cell type-specificity. The addition of a 320 bp fragment in the first intron to the GdC minigene sustained reporter expression in the definitive stage. Moreover, a line of transgenic mouse that expressed GATA-1 cDNA under the control of the complete 979 bp minigene rescued GATA-1 germ line mutant mice from embryonic lethality.
Conclusions: A combination of four distinct sequence motifs co-operatively serve as a fundamental functional unit for GATA-1 erythroid transcription in vivo.