Dose-dependent repression of T-cell and natural killer cell genes by PU.1 enforces myeloid and B-cell identity

Leukemia. 2008 Jun;22(6):1214-25. doi: 10.1038/leu.2008.67. Epub 2008 Mar 20.


The Ets transcription factor PU.1, encoded by the gene Sfpi1, functions in a concentration-dependent manner to promote myeloid and B-cell development and has been implicated in myeloid and lymphoid leukemias. To determine the consequences of reducing PU.1 concentration during hematopoiesis, we analyzed mice with two distinct hypomorphic alleles of Sfpi1 that produce PU.1 at approximately 20% (BN) or approximately 2% (Blac) of wild-type levels. Myeloid development was impaired in these mice, but less severely than in Sfpi1 null mice. To identify the downstream target genes that respond to changes in PU.1 concentration, we analyzed ex vivo interleukin-3 dependent myeloid cell lines established from Sfpi1(BN/BN), Sfpi1(Blac/Blac) and Sfpi1(-/-) fetal liver cells. Unexpectedly, many T-cell and natural killer cell genes were expressed in Sfpi1(-/-) cells and repressed in a dose-dependent manner in Sfpi1(Blac/Blac) and Sfpi1(BN/BN) cells. This pattern of dose-dependent T/NK-cell gene repression also occurred in ex vivo interleukin-7 dependent progenitor B cell lines. These results suggest that PU.1 functions in a concentration-dependent manner to repress T-cell and natural killer cell fates while promoting myeloid and B-cell fates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Computational Biology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Integrases / metabolism
  • Interleukin-3 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-7 / pharmacology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Myeloid Cells / physiology*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Precursor Cells, B-Lymphoid / cytology
  • Precursor Cells, B-Lymphoid / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins / physiology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Trans-Activators / physiology*
  • Transgenes / physiology


  • Interleukin-3
  • Interleukin-7
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • proto-oncogene protein Spi-1
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases