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Histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3) contributes to the regulation of gene expression, chromatin structure, and genomic stability. Because HDAC3 associates with oncoproteins that drive leukemia and lymphoma, we engineered a conditional deletion allele in mice to explore the physiological roles of Hdac3 in hematopoiesis. We used the Vav-Cre transgenic allele to trigger recombination, which yielded a dramatic loss of lymphoid cells, hypocellular bone marrow, and mild anemia. Phenotypic and functional analysis suggested that Hdac3 was required for the formation of the earliest lymphoid progenitor cells in the marrow, but that the marrow contained 3-5 times more multipotent progenitor cells. Hdac3(-/-) stem cells were severely compromised in competitive bone marrow transplantation. In vitro, Hdac3(-/-) stem and progenitor cells failed to proliferate, and most cells remained undifferentiated. Moreover, one-third of the Hdac3(-/-) stem and progenitor cells were in S phase 2 hours after BrdU labeling in vivo, suggesting that these cells were impaired in transit through the S phase. DNA fiber-labeling experiments indicated that Hdac3 was required for efficient DNA replication in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Thus, Hdac3 is required for the passage of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells through the S phase, for stem cell functions, and for lymphopoiesis.
Deep sequencing of mammalian DNA methylomes has uncovered a previously unpredicted number of discrete hypomethylated regions in intergenic space (iHMRs). Here, we combined whole-genome bisulfite sequencing data with extensive gene expression and chromatin-state data to define functional classes of iHMRs, and to reconstruct the dynamics of their establishment in a developmental setting. Comparing HMR profiles in embryonic stem and primary blood cells, we show that iHMRs mark an exclusive subset of active DNase hypersensitive sites (DHS), and that both developmentally constitutive and cell-type-specific iHMRs display chromatin states typical of distinct regulatory elements. We also observe that iHMR changes are more predictive of nearby gene activity than the promoter HMR itself, and that expression of noncoding RNAs within the iHMR accompanies full activation and complete demethylation of mature B cell enhancers. Conserved sequence features corresponding to iHMR transcript start sites, including a discernible TATA motif, suggest a conserved, functional role for transcription in these regions. Similarly, we explored both primate-specific and human population variation at iHMRs, finding that while enhancer iHMRs are more variable in sequence and methylation status than any other functional class, conservation of the TATA box is highly predictive of iHMR maintenance, reflecting the impact of sequence plasticity and transcriptional signals on iHMR establishment. Overall, our analysis allowed us to construct a three-step timeline in which (1) intergenic DHS are pre-established in the stem cell, (2) partial demethylation of blood-specific intergenic DHSs occurs in blood progenitors, and (3) complete iHMR formation and transcription coincide with enhancer activation in lymphoid-specified cells.
Mtg16/Eto2 is a transcriptional corepressor that is disrupted by t(16;21) in acute myeloid leukemia. Using mice lacking Mtg16, we found that Mtg16 is a critical regulator of T-cell development. Deletion of Mtg16 led to reduced thymocyte development in vivo, and after competitive bone marrow transplantation, there was a nearly complete failure of Mtg16(-/-) cells to contribute to thymocyte development. This defect was recapitulated in vitro as Mtg16(-/-) Lineage(-)/Sca1(+)/c-Kit(+) (LSK) cells of the bone marrow or DN1 cells of the thymus failed to produce CD4(+)/CD8(+) cells in response to a Notch signal. Complementation of these defects by reexpressing Mtg16 showed that 3 highly conserved domains were somewhat dispensable for T-cell development but required the capacity of Mtg16 to suppress E2A-dependent transcriptional activation and to bind to the Notch intracellular domain. Thus, Mtg16 integrates the activities of signaling pathways and nuclear factors in the establishment of T-cell fate specification.
T lineage commitment occurs in a discrete, stage-specific manner during thymic ontogeny. Intrathymic precursor transfer experiments and the identification of CD4(+)8+ double-positive (DP), V alpha 14J alpha 18 natural T (iNKT) cells suggest that commitment to this lineage might occur at the DP stage. Nevertheless, this matter remains contentious because others failed to detect V alpha 14J alpha 18-positive iNKT cells that are CD4(+)8+. In resolution to this issue, we demonstrate that retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor gamma (ROR gamma)0/0 thymi, which accumulate immature single-positive (ISP) thymocytes that precede the DP stage, do not rearrange V alpha 14-to-J alpha 18 gene segments, suggesting that this event occurs at a post-ISP stage. Mixed radiation bone marrow chimeras revealed that RORgamma functions in an iNKT cell lineage-specific manner. Further, introgression of a Bcl-x(L) transgene into ROR gamma(0/0) mice, which promotes survival and permits secondary rearrangements of distal V alpha and J alpha gene segments at the DP stage, rescues V alpha 14-to-J alpha 18 recombination. Similarly, introgression of a rearranged V alpha 14J alpha 18 transgene into ROR gamma(0/0) mice results in functional iNKT cells. Thus, our data support the "T cell receptor-instructive (mainstream precursor) model" of iNKT cell lineage specification where V alpha 14-to-J alpha 18 rearrangement, positive selection, and iNKT cell lineage commitment occur at or after the DP stage of ontogeny.