Granule major basic protein (MBP) is expressed exclusively in eosinophils, basophils, and placental trophoblasts. To identify the cis- elements and transcription factors involved in regulating MBP expression, we subcloned 3.2 kb of sequence upstream of the exon 9 transcriptional start site (P2 promoter) and serial 5' deletions into the pXP2 luciferase reporter vector. An 80% decrement in promoter activity was obtained when MBP sequences between bp -117 to -67 were deleted. To identify transcription factors that bind to and transactivate through the bp -117 to -67 region, we first compared the upstream genomic sequences of human and murine MBP; a potential GATA binding consensus site was conserved in the 50-bp region between the two genes. To determine which GATA proteins bind this consensus site, we performed electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs), which showed that both GATA-1 and GATA-2 can bind to this consensus site. To determine the functionality of this site, we tested whether GATA-1 and GATA-2, either individually or in combination, can transactivate the MBP promoter in the Jurkat T cell line. Cotransfection with a GATA-1 expression vector produced 20-fold augmentation of MBP promoter activity, whereas GATA-2 had no activity. In contrast, combined cotransfection of GATA-1 and GATA-2 decreased the ability of GATA-1 to transactivate the MBP promoter by approximately 50%. Our results provide the first evidence for a GATA-1 target gene in eosinophils, a negative regulatory role for GATA-2 in MBP expression, and possibly eosinophil gene transcription in general during myelopoiesis.
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