Genome-wide Transcription Factor binding maps reveal cell-specific changes in the regulatory architecture of human HSPC

Blood. 2023 Aug 18;blood.2023021120. doi: 10.1182/blood.2023021120. Online ahead of print.


Hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) rely on a complex interplay of transcription factors (TFs) to regulate differentiation into mature blood cells. A heptad of TFs - FLI1, ERG, GATA2, RUNX1, TAL1, LYL1, LMO2 - bind regulatory elements in bulk CD34+ HSPCs. However, whether specific heptad-TF combinations have distinct roles in regulating hematopoietic differentiation remained unknown. We mapped genome-wide chromatin contacts (HiC, H3K27ac HiChIP), chromatin modifications (H3K4me3, H3K27ac, H3K27me3) and 10 TF binding profiles (the Heptad, PU.1, CTCF, and STAG2) in HSPC subsets (HSC-MPP, CMP, GMP, MEP) and found that TF occupancy and enhancer-promoter interactions varied significantly across cell types and were associated with cell-type-specific gene expression. Distinct regulatory elements were enriched with specific heptad-TF combinations, including stem-cell-specific elements with ERG, and myeloid- and erythroid-specific elements with combinations of FLI1, RUNX1, GATA2, TAL1, LYL1, and LMO2. Furthermore, heptad-occupied regions in HSPCs were subsequently bound by lineage-defining TFs such as PU.1 and GATA1, suggesting that heptad factors may prime regulatory elements for use in mature cell types. We also found that enhancers with cell-type-specific heptad occupancy shared a common grammar with respect to TF binding motifs, suggesting that combinatorial binding of specific TF complexes was at least partially regulated by features encoded in specific DNA sequence motifs. Taken together, this study provides a comprehensive characterisation of the gene regulatory landscape in rare subpopulations of human HSPCs. The accompanying datasets should serve as a valuable resource for understanding adult hematopoiesis and a framework for analysing aberrant regulatory networks in leukemic cells.