Pratt, S.J., Drejer, A., Foott, H., Barut, B., Brownlie, A., Postlethwait, J., Kato, Y., Yamamoto, M., and Zon, L.I. (2002) Isolation and characterization of zebrafish NFE2. Physiological Genomics. 11(2):91-98.
Vertebrate hematopoiesis is regulated by distinct cell-specific transcription factors such as GATA-1 and SCL. Mammalian p45-NFE2 was characterized for its ability to bind the hypersensitive sites of the globin locus control region. NFE2 is a member of a cap'n'collar (CNC) and basic zipper (BZIP) superfamily that regulates gene transcription. It has been implicated in diverse processes such as globin gene expression, oxidative stress, and platelet lineage differentiation. Here, we have isolated the zebrafish orthologue of NFE2. The gene is highly homologous, particularly in the DNA-binding domain. Mapping the zebrafish NFE2 to linkage group 23 establishes a region of chromosomal synteny with human chromosome 12, further suggesting evolutionary conservation. During embryogenesis, the zebrafish gene is expressed specifically in erythroid cells and also in the developing ear. NFE2 expression is lacking in zebrafish mutants that have no hematopoietic cells. An analysis of the sauternes mutant, which carries a mutation in the ALAS-2 gene and thus has defective heme synthesis, demonstrates higher levels of NFE2 expression than normal. This further establishes the block to erythroid differentiation in the sauternes mutant. Our studies demonstrate conservation of the vertebrate genetic program for the erythroid lineage.