Functional replacement of the mouse E2A gene with a human HEB cDNA.
The mammalian E2A, HEB, and E2-2 genes encode a unique class of basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors that are evolutionarily conserved and essential for embryonic and postnatal development. While the structural and functional similarities among the gene products are well demonstrated, it is not clear why deletion of E2A, but not HEB or E2-2, leads to a complete arrest in B-lymphocyte development. To understand the molecular basis of the functional specificity between E2A and HEB/E2-2 in mammalian development, we generated and tested a panel of E2A knockin mutations including subtle mutations in the E12 and E47 exons and substitution of both E12 and E47 exons with a human HEB cDNA. We find that the alternatively spliced E12 and E47 bHLH proteins of the E2A gene play similar and additive roles in supporting B lymphopoiesis. Further, we find that HEB driven by the endogenous E2A promoter can functionally replace E2A in supporting B-cell commitment and differentiation toward completion. Finally, the postnatal lethality associated with E2A disruption is fully rescued by the addition of HEB. This study suggests that the functional divergence among E12, E47, and HEB in different cell types is partially defined by the context of gene expression.
Zhuang, Y; Barndt, RJ; Pan, L; Kelley, R; Dai, M
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