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The evolution of the macrophage-specific enhancer (Fms intronic regulatory element) within the CSF1R locus of vertebrates

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Original languageEnglish
Article number17115
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2017


The Csf1r locus encodes the receptor for macrophage colony-stimulating factor, which controls the proliferation, differentiation and survival of macrophages. The 300bp Fms intronic regulatory element (FIRE), within the second intron of Csf1r, is necessary and sufficient to direct macrophage-specific transcription. We have analysed the conservation and divergence of the FIRE DNA sequence in vertebrates. FIRE is present in the same location in the Csf1r locus in reptile, avian and mammalian genomes. Nearest neighbor analysis based upon this element alone largely recapitulates phylogenies inferred from much larger genomic sequence datasets. One core element, containing binding sites for AP1 family and the macrophage-specific transcription factor, PU.1, is conserved from lizards to humans. Around this element, the FIRE sequence is conserved within clades with the most conserved elements containing motifs for known myeloid-expressed transcription factors. Conversely, there is little alignment between clades outside the AP1/PU.1 element. The analysis favours a hybrid between “enhanceosome” and “smorgasbord” models of enhancer function, in which elements cooperate to bind components of the available transcription factor milieu.

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