Mol Cell Biol 2008 Mar 14;28(6):2102-12. Epub 2008 Jan 14.
Institut für Biochemie, Westfälische-Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Wilhelm-Klemm-Str. 2, D-48149 Münster, Germany.
We have used the chicken mim-1 gene as a model to study the mechanisms by which transcription factors gain initial access to their target sites in compacted chromatin. The expression of mim-1 is restricted to the myelomonocytic lineage of the hematopoietic system where it is regulated synergistically by the Myb and CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) factors. Myb and C/EBPbeta cooperate at two distinct cis elements of mim-1, the promoter and a cell-type-specific enhancer, both of which are associated with DNase I hypersensitive sites in myelomonocytic cells but not in mim-1-nonexpressing cells. Previous work has shown that ectopic expression of Myb and C/EBPbeta activates the endogenous mim-1 gene in a nonhematopoietic cell type (fibroblasts), where the gene is normally completely silent. Here, we investigated the molecular details of this finding and show that the activation of mim-1 occurs by two independent mechanisms. In the absence of Myb, C/EBPbeta triggers the initial steps of chromatin opening at the mim-1 enhancer without inducing transcription of the gene. mim-1 transcription occurs only in the presence of Myb and is associated with chromatin opening at the promoter. Our work identifies a novel function for C/EBPbeta in the initial steps of a localized chromatin opening at a specific, physiologically relevant target region.