Genes & development

Active enhancers are delineated de novo during hematopoiesis, with limited lineage fidelity among specified primary blood cells.

PMID 25128499


Tissues may adopt diverse strategies to establish specific transcriptional programs in daughter lineages. In intestinal crypts, enhancers for genes expressed in both major cell types appear broadly permissive in stem and specified progenitor cells. In blood, another self-renewing tissue, it is unclear when chromatin becomes permissive for transcription of genes expressed in distinct terminal lineages. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) combined with deep sequencing (ChIP-seq) to profile activating histone marks, we studied enhancer dynamics in primary mouse blood stem, progenitor, and specified cells. Stem and multipotent progenitor cells show scant H3K4me2 marking at enhancers bound by specific transcription factors in their committed progeny. Rather, enhancers are modulated dynamically and serially, with substantial loss and gain of H3K4me2, at each cellular transition. Quantitative analysis of these dynamics accurately modeled hematopoiesis according to Waddington's notion of epigenotypes. Delineation of enhancers in terminal blood lineages coincides with cell specification, and enhancers active in single lineages show well-positioned H3K4me2- and H3K27ac-marked nucleosomes and DNaseI hypersensitivity in other cell types, revealing limited lineage fidelity. These findings demonstrate that enhancer chronology in blood cells differs markedly from that in intestinal crypts. Chromatin dynamics in hematopoiesis provide a useful foundation to consider classical observations such as cellular reprogramming and multilineage locus priming.