Function of PU.1 (Spi-1), C/EBP, and AML1 in early myelopoiesis: regulation of multiple myeloid CSF receptor promoters

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 1996;211:137-47. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-85232-9_14.


Our studies of the promoters of the myeloid CSF receptors (M, GM, and G) in cell lines have led to the findings that the promoters are small, and are all activated by the PU.1 and C/EBP proteins. To date, we have only found evidence for involvement of C/EBP alpha, although further experiments will be needed to exclude the role of C/EBP beta and C/EBP delta in receptor gene expression. These studies suggest a model of hematopoiesis (Fig. 2) in which the lineage commitment decisions of multipotential cells are made by the alternative patterns of expression of certain transcription factors, which then activate growth factor receptors which allow those cells to respond to the appropriate growth factor to proliferate and survive. For example, expression of GATA-1 activates its own expression, as well as that of the erythropoietin receptor, inducing these cells to be capable of responding to erythropoietin. Similarly, expression of PU.1 activates its own promoter, and turns on the three myeloid CSF receptors (M, GM, and G), pushing these cells along the pathway of myeloid differentiation. C/EBP proteins, particularly C/EBP alpha, are also critical for myeloid receptor promoter function, and may also act via autoregulatory mechanisms. Murine C/EBP alpha has a C/EBP binding site in its own promoter. Human C/EBP alpha autoregulates its own expression in adipocytes by activating the USF transcription factor. Myeloid genes expressed later during differentiation, such as CD11b, are also activated by PU.1, which is expressed at highest levels in mature myeloid cells, but not by C/EBP alpha, which is downregulated in a differentiated murine myeloid cell line. Consistent with this model are the findings that overexpression of PU.1 in erythroid cells blocks erythroid differentiation, leading to erythroleukemia, and overexpression of GATA-1 in a myeloid line blocks myeloid differentiation. While these findings have provided some framework for understanding myeloid gene regulation, there are a number of critical questions to be addressed in the near future: What is the pattern of expression of the C/EBP proteins during the course of myeloid differentiation and activation of human CD34+ cells? What is the effect of targeted disruption and other mutations of the C/EBP and AML1 proteins on myeloid development and receptor expression? What are the interactions among these three different types of factors (ets, basic region-zipper, and Runt domain proteins) to activate the promoters? What is the effect of translocations, mutations, and alterations in expression of these factors, particularly in different forms of AML?

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Hematopoiesis / genetics
  • Hematopoiesis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Proteins / physiology*
  • Nuclear Proteins / physiology*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins*
  • Receptors, Colony-Stimulating Factor / genetics*
  • Retroviridae Proteins, Oncogenic
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*


  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • RUNX1 protein, human
  • Receptors, Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Retroviridae Proteins, Oncogenic
  • Transcription Factors
  • v-Spi-1 protein, Friend spleen focus-forming virus