Skip Navigation LinksHome > May 2014 - Volume 21 - Issue 3 > Epigenetic and genetic mechanisms in red cell biology
Current Opinion in Hematology:
doi: 10.1097/MOH.0000000000000034
ERYTHROID SYSTEM AND ITS DISEASES: Edited by Narla Mohandas

Epigenetic and genetic mechanisms in red cell biology

Hewitt, Kyle J.a,b; Sanalkumar, Rajendrana,b; Johnson, Kirby D.a,b; Keles, Sunduzb,c; Bresnick, Emery H.a,b

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Erythropoiesis, in which hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) generate lineage-committed progenitors that mature into erythrocytes, is regulated by numerous chromatin modifying and remodeling proteins. We will focus on how epigenetic and genetic mechanisms mesh to establish the erythroid transcriptome and how studying erythropoiesis can yield genomic principles.

Recent findings

Trans-acting factor binding to small DNA motifs (cis-elements) underlies regulatory complex assembly at specific chromatin sites, and therefore unique transcriptomes. As cis-elements are often very small, thousands or millions of copies of a given element reside in a genome. Chromatin restricts factor access in a context-dependent manner, and cis-element-binding factors recruit chromatin regulators that mediate functional outputs. Technologies to map chromatin attributes of loci in vivo, to edit genomes and to sequence whole genomes have been transformative in discovering critical cis-elements linked to human disease.

Summary

Cis-elements mediate chromatin-targeting specificity, and chromatin regulators dictate cis-element accessibility/function, illustrating an amalgamation of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. Cis-elements often function ectopically when studied outside of their endogenous loci, and complex strategies to identify nonredundant cis-elements require further development. Facile genome-editing technologies provide a new approach to address this problem. Extending genetic analyses beyond exons and promoters will yield a rich pipeline of cis-element alterations with importance for red cell biology and disease.

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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