We identified the factor(s) that bind to the chicken erythroid-cell-specific histone H5 enhancer region which is located on the 3′ end of the gene. In DNAase I footprinting and u.v. cross-linking experiments with nuclear extracts from adult chicken immature erythrocytes, we determined that the trans-acting factor GATA-1 was the predominating protein interacting with the histone H5 enhancer. GATA-2 and GATA-3 were not detected. In contrast, gel-mobility-shift assays and competition experiments demonstrated that several specific complexes formed with the histone H5 enhancer region. Gel-mobility-shift assays with 23 bp oligonucleotides containing the GATA-binding site (AGATAA) of the histone H5 enhancer or of the beta-globin enhancer showed that the GATA sequence was sufficient for the formation of at least five complexes. Diagonal mobility-shift assays demonstrated that multisubunit complexes were forming with the GATA-1 protein. Our interpretation of the results is that GATA-1 interacts with a protein of approx. 105 kDa which, in turn, can associate with protein or protein complexes of approx. 26 kDa, 146 kDa and a protein(s) of molecular mass greater than 450 kDa. The different multisubunit complexes formed via the trans-acting factor GATA-1 may impart different transcriptional responses to the promoter and enhancer elements of the histone H5 and globin genes.

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