B29 Gene Silencing In Pituitary Cells Is Regulated By Its 3? Enhancer

B cell-specific B29 (Igβ, CD79b) genes in rat, mouse, and human are situated between the 5′ growth hormone (GH) locus control region and the 3′ GH gene cluster. The entire GH genomic region is DNase 1 hypersensitive in GH-expressing pituitary cells, which predicts an “open” chromatin configuration, and yet B29 is not expressed. The B29 promoter and enhancers exhibit histone deacetylation in pituitary cells, but histone deacetylase inhibition failed to activate B29 expression. The B29 promoter and a 3′ enhancer showed local dense DNA methylation in both pituitary and non-lymphoid cells consistent with gene silencing. However, DNA methyltransferase inhibition did not activate B29 expression either. B29 promoter constructs were minimally activated in transfected pituitary cells. Co-transfection of the B cell-specific octamer transcriptional co-activator Bob1 with the B29 promoter construct resulted in high level promoter activity in pituitary cells comparable to B29 promoter activity in transfected B cells. Unexpectedly, inclusion of the B29 3′ enhancer in B29 promoter constructs strongly inhibited B29 transcriptional activity even when pituitary cells were co-transfected with Bob1. Both Oct-1 and Pit-1 bind the B29 3′ enhancer in in vitro electrophoretic mobility shift assay and in in vivo chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses. These data indicate that the GH locus-embedded, tissue-specific B29 gene is silenced in GH-expressing pituitary cells by epigenetic mechanisms, the lack of a B cell-specific transcription factor, and likely by the B29 3′ enhancer acting as a powerful silencer in a context and tissue-specific manner.