Expression levels of spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK), a critical signaling tyrosine kinase in basophils, are uniquely low relative to all other circulating leukocytes, and levels are highly variable in the population.
We sought to determine whether transcriptional regulation of SYK through unique silencing of the SYK gene determines its basophil-specific expression patterns.
Culture-derived basophils (CD34B cells) were derived from cultures of CD34+ progenitor cells by using 2 methods (G1 or G3). Peripheral blood basophils (PBBs; relative SYK protein level = 1), B cells (SYK = 8), CD34B-G1 cells (SYK = 11), and CD34B-G3 cells (SYK = 5) were examined by using assay for transposase-accessible chromatin sequencing (ATAC-seq) methods. In addition, the transcriptomes of 6 cell types, PBBs, peripheral blood eosinophils (SYK = 11), plasmacytoid dendritic cells (SYK = 30), CD34+ progenitors (SYK = 11), CD34B-G1 cells, and CD34B-G3 cells, were analyzed for patterns that matched patterns of SYK expression in these cells, with a focus on transcription factors.
ATAC-seq showed that PBBs have multiple open regions in the SYK gene, suggesting a nonsilenced state with 1 region unique to PBBs (low SYK expression), 1 region unique to both PBBs (low SYK expression) and both G1 and G3 CD34B cells (high and moderate SYK expression, respectively), and 5 regions unique to B cells (high SYK expression). SYK expression across the 6 cell types explored showed a unique pattern that was matched to expression patterns of 3 transcription factors: Kruppel-like factor 5 (KLF5), zinc-finger protein 608 (ZNF608), and musculoaponeurotic fibrosarcoma protein (c-MAF).
Two new potential regulatory pathways for SYK expression were identified. One appears independent of transcriptional regulation, and one appears to be dependent on transcriptional control in the SYK gene.