The Inducible Tissue-Specific Expression of the Human IL-3/GM-CSF Locus Is Controlled by a Complex Array of Developmentally Regulated Enhancers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Euan W Baxter
  • Fabio Mirabella
  • Sarion R Bowers
  • Sally R James
  • Aude-Marine Bonavita
  • Elisabeth Bertrand
  • Ruslan Strogantsev
  • Abbas Hawwari
  • Andrew G Bert
  • Andrea Gonzalez de Arce
  • Adam G West

External organisations

  • University of Leeds


The closely linked human IL-3 and GM-CSF genes are tightly regulated and are expressed in activated T cells and mast cells. In this study, we used transgenic mice to study the developmental regulation of this locus and to identify DNA elements required for its correct activity in vivo. Because these two genes are separated by a CTCF-dependent insulator, and the GM-CSF gene is regulated primarily by its own upstream enhancer, the main objective in this study was to identify regions of the locus required for correct IL-3 gene expression. We initially found that the previously identified proximal upstream IL-3 enhancers were insufficient to account for the in vivo activity of the IL-3 gene. However, an extended analysis of DNase I-hypersensitive sites (DHSs) spanning the entire upstream IL-3 intergenic region revealed the existence of a complex cluster of both constitutive and inducible DHSs spanning the -34- to -40-kb region. The tissue specificity of these DHSs mirrored the activity of the IL-3 gene, and included a highly inducible cyclosporin A-sensitive enhancer at -37 kb that increased IL-3 promoter activity 40-fold. Significantly, inclusion of this region enabled correct in vivo regulation of IL-3 gene expression in T cells, mast cells, and myeloid progenitor cells.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4459-69
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number9
Early online date28 Sep 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012