Background: While mast cells have been previously shown to express both GATA-1 and GATA-2 mRNAs, individual functions for these related factors during their course of differentiation within the mast cell lineage have not yet been defined. To address this question, the expression of GATA-1 and GATA-2 mRNAs and proteins were examined in three mouse mast cell progenitor lines as well as in mast cells isolated from both wild-type and GATA-1- deficient mice. Results: Both mast cell progenitor lines, as well as primary mouse bone marrow-derived mast cells (BMMCs) and peritoneal mast cells (PMCs) were examined by RNA blotting and immunological analyses. GATA-2 protein was abundantly expressed in all three mast cell lines and in BMMCs, but only weakly in some of PMCs. In contrast, GATA-1 protein was expressed in PMCs and BMMCs after culture in the presence of IL-3 and SCF. We also found the presence of Alcian blue staining-positive but berberine staining-negative mast cells in the skin of mice heterozygous to GATA-1 knock-down allele. Conclusion: These results suggest that the expression of GATA factor- dependent genes is regulated by GATA-2 during mast cell development and that GATA-1 is required for the specification of differentiated mast cell phenotypes.
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