C/EBPα is required for formation of granulocyte-monocyte progenitors (GMP) and also participates in B lymphopoiesis. The common lymphoid progenitor (CLP) and preproB populations but not proB cells express Cebpa, and pan-hematopoietic deletion of the +37 kb Cebpa enhancer using Mx1-Cre leads not only to reduced GMP but also to 2-fold reduced marrow preproB and >15-fold reduced proB and preB cells. We now show that IL7Rα-Cremediated deletion of the +37 kb Cebpa enhancer, which occurs in 89% of Ly6D+ and 65% of upstream Ly6D- CLP, leads to a 2-fold reduction of both preproB and proB cells, and a 3-fold reduction in preB cells, with no impact on GMP numbers. These data support a direct role for C/EBPα during B lineage development, with reduced enhancer deletion in Ly6DCLP mediated by IL7Rα-Cre diminishing the effect on B lymphopoiesis compared to that seen with Mx1-Cre. Amongst mRNAs encoding key transcriptional regulators that initiate B lymphoid specification (PU.1, E2A, IKAROS, EBF1, FOXO1, and BACH2), only Ebf1 levels are altered in CLP upon Mx1-Cre-mediated Cebpa enhancer deletion, with Ebf1 reduced ~40-fold in Flt3+Sca-1intc-kitintIL7Rα+ CLP. In addition, Cebpa and Ebf1 RNAs were 4- and 14-fold higher in hCD4+ versus hCD4- CLP from Cebpa-hCD4 transgenic mice. Histone modification ChIP-Seq data for CLP indicate the presence of active, intronic Ebf1 enhancers located 270 and 280 kb upstream of the transcription start sites. We identified a cis element in this region that strongly binds C/EBPα using the electrophoretic mobility shift assay. Mutation of this C/EBPα-binding site in an Ebf1 enhancer-TK-luciferase reporter leads to a 4-fold reduction in C/EBPα-mediated trans-activation. These findings support a model of B lymphopoiesis in which induction of Ebf1 by C/EBPα in a subset of CLP contributes to initiation of B lymphopoiesis.
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