The beta-globin nuclear compartment in development and erythroid differentiation

Nat Genet. 2003 Oct;35(2):190-4. doi: 10.1038/ng1244. Epub 2003 Sep 21.


Efficient transcription of genes requires a high local concentration of the relevant trans-acting factors. Nuclear compartmentalization can provide an effective means to locally increase the concentration of rapidly moving trans-acting factors; this may be achieved by spatial clustering of chromatin-associated binding sites for such factors. Here we analyze the structure of an erythroid-specific spatial cluster of cis-regulatory elements and active beta-globin genes, the active chromatin hub (ACH; ref. 6), at different stages of development and in erythroid progenitors. We show, in mice and humans, that a core ACH is developmentally conserved and consists of the hypersensitive sites (HS1-HS6) of the locus control region (LCR), the upstream 5' HS-60/-62 and downstream 3' HS1. Globin genes switch their interaction with this cluster during development, correlating with the switch in their transcriptional activity. In mouse erythroid progenitors that are committed to but do not yet express beta-globin, only the interactions between 5' HS-60/-62, 3' HS1 and hypersensitive sites at the 5' side of the LCR are stably present. After induction of differentiation, these sites cluster with the rest of the LCR and the gene that is activated. We conclude that during erythroid differentiation, cis-regulatory DNA elements create a developmentally conserved nuclear compartment dedicated to RNA polymerase II transcription of beta-globin genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cell Nucleus
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Globins / genetics*
  • Globins / metabolism
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Protein Transport
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Chromatin
  • Globins