Follows GA, Ferreira R, Janes ME, Spensberger D, Cambuli F, Chaney AF, Kinston SJ, Landry JR, Green AR, Göttgens B
The Scl gene encodes a transcription factor essential for haematopoietic development. Scl transcription is regulated by a panel of cis-elements spread over 55 kb with the most distal 3' element being located downstream of the neighbouring gene Map17, which is co-regulated with Scl in haematopoietic cells. The Scl/Map17 domain is flanked upstream by the ubiquitously expressed Sil gene and downstream by a cluster of Cyp genes active in liver, but the mechanisms responsible for delineating the domain boundaries remain unclear. Here we report identification of a DNaseI hypersensitive site at the 3' end of the Scl/Map17 domain and 45 kb downstream of the Scl transcription start site. This element is located at the boundary of active and inactive chromatin, does not function as a classical tissue-specific enhancer, binds CTCF and is both necessary and sufficient for insulator function in haematopoietic cells in vitro. Moreover, in a transgenic reporter assay, tissue-specific expression of the Scl promoter in brain was increased by incorporation of 350 bp flanking fragments from the +45 element. Our data suggests that the +45 region functions as a boundary element that separates the Scl/Map17 and Cyp transcriptional domains, and raise the possibility that this element may be useful for improving tissue-specific expression of transgenic constructs.