Amigo, J.D., Yu, M., Troadec, M.B., Gwynn, B., Cooney, J.D., Lambert, A.J., Chi, N.C., Weiss, M.J., Peters, L.L., Kaplan, J., Cantor, A.B., and Paw, B.H. (2011) Identification of distal cis-regulatory elements at the mouse mitoferrin loci using zebrafish transgenesis. Molecular and cellular biology. 31(7):1344-56.
Mitoferrin1 (Mfrn1, Slc25a37) and Mitoferrin2 (Mfrn2, Slc25a28) function as essential mitochondrial iron importers for heme and Fe/S cluster biogenesis. A genetic deficiency of Mfrn1 results in a profound hypochromic anemia in vertebrate species. To map the cis-regulatory modules (CRMs) that control expression of the Mfrn genes, we utilized genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) datasets for the major erythroid transcription factor GATA-1. We identified the CRMs that faithfully drive the expression of Mfrn1 during blood and heart development and Mfrn2 ubiquitously. Through in vivo analyses of the Mfrn-CRMs in zebrafish and mouse, we demonstrate their functional and evolutionary conservation. Using knockdowns with morpholinos and cell sorting analysis in transgenic zebrafish embryos, we show that GATA-1 directly regulates the expression of Mfrn1. Mutagenesis of individual GATA-1 Binding cis-Elements (GBE) demonstrated that at least two of the three GBE within this CRM are functionally required for GATA-mediated transcription of Mfrn1. Furthermore, ChIP assays demonstrate switching from GATA-2 to GATA-1 at these elements during erythroid maturation. Our results provide new insights into the genetic regulation of mitochondrial function and iron homeostasis and more generally, illustrate the utility of genome-wide ChIP analysis combined with zebrafish transgenesis for identifying long-range transcriptional enhancers that regulate tissue development.