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Cebpa encodes a transcription factor (TF) that plays an instructive role in the development of multiple myeloid lineages. The expression of Cebpa itself is finely modulated, as Cebpa is expressed at high and intermediate levels in neutrophils and macrophages respectively and downregulated in non-myeloid lineages. The cis-regulatory logic underlying the lineage-specific modulation of Cebpa’s expression level is yet to be fully characterized. Previously, we had identified 6 new cis-regulatory modules (CRMs) in a 78kb region surrounding Cebpa. We had also inferred the TFs that regulate each CRM by fitting a sequence-based thermodynamic model to a comprehensive reporter activity dataset. Here, we report the cis-regulatory logic of Cebpa CRMs at the resolution of individual binding sites. We tested the binding sites and functional roles of inferred TFs by designing and constructing mutated CRMs and comparing theoretical predictions of their activity against empirical measurements in a myeloid cell line. The enhancers were confirmed to be activated by combinations of PU.1, C/EBP family TFs, Egr1, and Gfi1 as predicted by the model. We show that silencers repress the activity of the proximal promoter in a dominant manner in G1ME cells, which are derived from the red-blood cell lineage. Dominant repression in G1ME cells can be traced to binding sites for GATA and Myb, a motif shared by all of the silencers. Finally, we demonstrate that GATA and Myb act redundantly to silence the proximal promoter. These results indicate that dominant repression is a novel mechanism for resolving hematopoietic lineages. Furthermore, Cebpa has a fail-safe cis-regulatory architecture, featuring several functionally similar CRMs, each of which contains redundant binding sites for multiple TFs. Lastly, by experimentally demonstrating the predictive ability of our sequence-based thermodynamic model, this work highlights the utility of this computational approach for understanding mammalian gene regulation.





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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.