Genome-wide identification of Ikaros targets elucidates its contribution to mouse B-cell lineage specification and pre-B-cell differentiation


Ikaros family DNA-binding proteins are critical regulators of B-cell development. Because the current knowledge of Ikaros targets in B-cell progenitors is limited, we have identified genes that are bound and regulated by Ikaros in pre-B cells. To elucidate the role of Ikaros in B-cell lineage specification and differentiation, we analyzed the differential expression of Ikaros targets during the progression of multipotent to lymphoid-restricted progenitors, B- and T-cell lineage specification, and progression along the B-cell lineage. Ikaros targets accounted for one-half of all genes up-regulated during B-cell lineage specification in vivo, explaining the essential role of Ikaros in this process. Expression of the Ikaros paralogs Ikzf1 and Ikzf3increases incrementally during B-cell progenitor differentiation, and, remarkably, inducible Ikaros expression in cycling pre-B cells was sufficient to drive transcriptional changes resembling the differentiation of cycling to resting pre-B cells in vivo. The data suggest that Ikaros transcription factor dosage drives the progression of progenitors along a predetermined lineage by regulating multiple targets in key pathways, including pre-B–cell receptor signaling, cell cycle progression, and lymphocyte receptor rearrangement. Our approach may be of general use to map the contribution of transcription factors to cell lineage commitment and differentiation.