Enhancer-blocking activity within the DNase I hypersensitive site 2 to 6 region between the TCR alpha and Dad1 genes.
Although tightly linked, the TCR alpha and delta genes are expressed specifically in T lymphocytes, whereas the Dad1 gene is ubiquitously expressed. Between TCR alpha and Dad1 are eight DNase I hypersensitive sites (HS). HS1 colocalizes with the TCR alpha enhancer (Ealpha) and is T cell-specific; HS2, -3, -4, -5, and -6 map downstream of HS1 and are tissue-nonspecific. The region spanning HS2-6 was reported to display chromatin-opening activity and to confer copy number-dependent and integration site-independent transgene expression in transgenic mice. Here, we demonstrate that HS2-6 also displays enhancer-blocking activity, as it can block an enhancer from activating a promoter when located between the two in a chromatin-integrated context, and can do so without repressing either the enhancer or the promoter. Multiple enhancer-blocking elements are arrayed across HS2-6. We show that HS2-6 by itself does not activate transcription in chromatin context, but can synergize with an enhancer when located upstream of an enhancer and promoter. We propose that HS2-6 primarily functions as an insulator or boundary element that may be critical for the autonomous regulation of the TCR alpha and Dad1 genes.
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