The transcription factor Gata1 is required for the development of erythrocytes and megakaryocytes. Previous studies with a complementation rescue approach showed that the zinc finger domains are required for both primitive and definitive hematopoiesis. Here we report a novel zebrafish gata1 mutant with an N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea-induced point mutation in the C-finger (gata1(T301K)). The Gata1 protein with this mutation bound to its DNA target sequence with reduced affinity and transactivated inefficiently in a reporter assay. gata1(T301K/T301K) fish had a decreased number of erythrocytes during primitive hematopoiesis but normal adult hematopoiesis. We crossed the gata1(T301K/T301K) fish with those carrying the R339X mutation, also known as vlad tepes (vlt), which abolishes DNA binding and transactivation activities. As we reported previously, gata1(vlt/vlt) embryos were "bloodless" and died approximately 11 to 15 days after fertilization. Interestingly, the gata1(T301K/vlt) fish had nearly a complete block of primitive hematopoiesis, but they resumed hematopoiesis between 7 and 14 days after fertilization and grew to phenotypically normal fish with normal adult hematopoiesis. Our findings suggest that the impact of Gata1 on hematopoiesis correlates with its DNA-binding ability and that primitive hematopoiesis is more sensitive to reduction in Gata1 function than definitive hematopoiesis.
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