TAL1 is an important regulator of hematopoiesis and its expression is tightly controlled despite complexities in its genomic organization. It is frequently misregulated in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), often due to deletions between TAL1 and the neighboring STIL gene. To better understand the events that lead to TAL1 expression in hematopoiesis and in T-ALL, we studied looping interactions at the TAL1 locus. In TAL1- expressing erythroid cells, the locus adopts a looping "hub" which brings into close physical proximity all known TAL1 cis-regulatory elements including CTCF-bound insulators. Loss of GATA1 results in disassembly of the hub and loss of CTCF/RAD21 from one of its insulators. Genes flanking TAL1 are partly dependent on hub integrity for their transcriptional regulation. We identified looping patterns unique to TAL1- expressing T-ALL cells, and, intriguingly, loops occurring between the TAL1 and STIL genes at the common TAL1/STIL breakpoints found in T-ALL. These findings redefine how TAL1 and neighboring genes communicate within the nucleus, and indicate that looping facilitates both normal and aberrant TAL1 expression and may predispose to structural rearrangements in T-ALL. We also propose that GATA1-dependent looping mechanisms may facilitate the conservation of TAL1 regulation despite cis-regulatory remodeling during vertebrate evolution.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology