Dramatic repositioning of c-Myb to different promoters during the cell cycle observed by combining cell sorting with chromatin immunoprecipitation.
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The c-Myb transcription factor is a critical regulator of proliferation and stem cell differentiation, and mutated alleles of c-Myb are oncogenic, but little is known about changes in c-Myb activity during the cell cycle. To map the association of c-Myb with specific target genes during the cell cycle, we developed a novel Fix-Sort-ChIP approach, in which asynchronously growing cells were fixed with formaldehyde, stained with Hoechst 33342 and separated into different cell cycle fractions by flow sorting, then processed for chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays. We found that c-Myb actively repositions, binding to some genes only in specific cell cycle phases. In addition, the specificity of c-Myb is dramatically different in small subpopulations of cells, for example cells in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle, than in the bulk population. The repositioning of c-Myb during the cell cycle is not due to changes in its expression and also occurs with ectopically expressed, epitope-tagged versions of c-Myb. The repositioning occurs in established cell lines, in primary human CD34+ hematopoietic progenitors and in primary human acute myeloid leukemia cells. The combination of fixation, sorting and ChIP analysis sheds new light on the dynamic nature of gene regulation during the cell cycle and provides a new type of tool for the analysis of gene regulation in small subsets of cells, such as cells in a specific phase of the cell cycle.