Genome-wide identification of Bcl11b gene targets reveals role in brain-derived neurotrophic factor signaling

PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e23691. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023691. Epub 2011 Sep 1.


B-cell leukemia/lymphoma 11B (Bcl11b) is a transcription factor showing predominant expression in the striatum. To date, there are no known gene targets of Bcl11b in the nervous system. Here, we define targets for Bcl11b in striatal cells by performing chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-seq) in combination with genome-wide expression profiling. Transcriptome-wide analysis revealed that 694 genes were significantly altered in striatal cells over-expressing Bcl11b, including genes showing striatal-enriched expression similar to Bcl11b. ChIP-seq analysis demonstrated that Bcl11b bound a mixture of coding and non-coding sequences that were within 10 kb of the transcription start site of an annotated gene. Integrating all ChIP-seq hits with the microarray expression data, 248 direct targets of Bcl11b were identified. Functional analysis on the integrated gene target list identified several zinc-finger encoding genes as Bcl11b targets, and further revealed a significant association of Bcl11b to brain-derived neurotrophic factor/neurotrophin signaling. Analysis of ChIP-seq binding regions revealed significant consensus DNA binding motifs for Bcl11b. These data implicate Bcl11b as a novel regulator of the BDNF signaling pathway, which is disrupted in many neurological disorders. Specific targeting of the Bcl11b-DNA interaction could represent a novel therapeutic approach to lowering BDNF signaling specifically in striatal cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • Consensus Sequence
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genomics*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Mice
  • Neostriatum / cytology
  • Neostriatum / metabolism
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction* / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • Bcl11b protein, mouse
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • DNA