Synthetic genomics to unravel the regulatory code of lineage-specific gene expression in blood
Speaker: Lars Velten (Centre de Regulació Genòmica, Barcelona)
During the differentiation of blood stem cells, gene expression needs to be tightly controlled, but it is unclear how gene regulatory elements encode this specificity. Here, we took a bottom-up approach and attempted to engineer lineage- and stage-specific enhancers from scratch, by systematically embedding transcription factor (TF) binding sites into random DNA. In total, we designed 60,000 candidate enhancers, and measured their ability to drive transcription in seven hematopoietic progenitor states, using a primary cell differentiation model. Our results reveal dose- and context-dependent duality behavior of TFs, encoding of specificity by low-affinity sites, and an unexpected ability of stem cell TFs to turn lineage TFs into repressors. I will also discuss ideas to describe our results with mechanistic models.
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