An autoregulatory enhancer controls mammary-specific STAT5 functions

Gil Metser, Ha Youn Shin, Chaochen Wang, Kyung Hyun Yoo, Sumin Oh, Alejandro V. Villarino, John J. O'Shea, Keunsoo Kang, Lothar Hennighausen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription (STATs) are principal transcription factors downstream of cytokine receptors. Although STAT5A is expressed in most tissues it remains to be understood why its premier, non-redundant functions are restricted to prolactin-induced mammary gland development and function. We report that the ubiquitously expressed Stat5a/b locus is subject to additional lineage-specific transcriptional control in mammary epithelium. Genome-wide surveys of epigenetic status and transcription factor occupancy uncovered a putative mammary-specific enhancer within the intergenic sequences separating the two Stat5 genes. This region exhibited several hallmarks of genomic enhancers, including DNaseI hypersensitivity, H3K27 acetylation and binding by GR, NFIB, ELF5 and MED1. Mammary-specific STAT5 binding was obtained at two canonical STAT5 binding motifs. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing was used to delete these sites in mice and determine their biological function. Mutant animals exhibited an 80% reduction of Stat5 levels in mammary epithelium and a concomitant reduction of STAT5-dependent gene expression. Transcriptome analysis identified a class of mammary-restricted genes that was particularly dependent on high STAT5 levels as a result of the intergenic enhancer. Taken together, the mammaryspecific enhancer enables a positive feedback circuit that contributes to the remarkable abundance of STAT5 and, in turn, to the efficacy of STAT5- dependent mammary physiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1052-1063
Number of pages12
JournalNucleic acids research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 18 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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