Many genes residing in gene clusters and expressed in a differentiation or developmental-stage specific manner are regulated by locus control regions (LCRs). These complex genetic regulatory elements are often composed of several DNAse I hypersensitive sites (HS sites) that function together to regulate the expression of several cis-linked genes. Particularly well characterized is the LCR associated with the beta-globin gene locus. The beta-globin LCR consists of five HS sites that are located upstream of the beta-like globin genes. Recent data demonstrate that the LCR is required for the association of the beta-globin gene locus with transcription foci or factories. The observation that RNA polymerase II associates with the LCR in erythroid progenitor or hematopoietic stem cells which do not express the globin genes suggests that the LCR is always in an accessible chromatin configuration during differentiation of erythroid cells. We propose that erythroid specific factors together with ubiquitous proteins mediate a change in chromatin configuration that juxtaposes the globin genes and the LCR. The proximity then facilitates the transfer of activities from the LCR to the globin genes. In this article we will discuss recent observations regarding beta-globin locus activation with a particular emphasis on LCR mediated activation of adult beta-globin gene expression.
- Gene Expression Regulation/genetics
- Locus Control Region
- Models, Genetic