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The GATA factor revolution in hematology

Koichi R. Katsumura and Emery H. Bresnick

Abstract

The discovery of the GATA transcription factor family revolutionized hematology. Studies of GATA proteins have yielded vital contributions to our understanding of how hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) develop from precursors, how progenitors generate red blood cells, how hemoglobin synthesis is regulated, and the molecular underpinnings of non-malignant and malignant hematologic disorders. This thrilling journey began with mechanistic studies on a β-globin enhancer- and promoter-binding factor, GATA-1, the founding member of the GATA family. This work ushered in the cloning of related proteins, GATA-2-6, with distinct and/or overlapping expression patterns. Herein, we discuss how the hematopoietic GATA factors (GATA-1-3) function via a battery of mechanistic permutations, which can be GATA factor subtype-, cell type-, and locus-specific. Understanding this intriguing protein family requires consideration of how the mechanistic permutations are amalgamated into circuits to orchestrate processes of interest to the hematologist and more broadly.

  • Submitted September 7, 2016.
  • Accepted October 6, 2016.