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B-cell lymphoma/leukemia 11A is a protein that in humans is encoded by the BCL11A gene.[1][2][3]


The BCL11A gene encodes for a regulatory C2H2 type zinc-finger protein, that can bind to the DNA. Five alternatively spliced transcript variants of this gene, which encode distinct isoforms, have been reported.[3] The protein associates with the SWI/SNF complex, that regulates gene expression via chromatin remodelling.[4]

BCL11A is highly expressed in several hematopoietic lineages, and plays a role in the switch from γ- to β-globin expression during the fetal to adult erythropoiesis transition.[5]

Furthermore, BCL11A is expressed in the brain, where it forms a protein complex with CASK to regulate axon outgrowth and branching.[6] In the neocortex, BCL11A binds to the TBR1 regulatory region and inhibits the expression of TBR1.[7]

Clinical significance

The corresponding Bcl11a mouse gene is a common site of retroviral integration in myeloid leukemia, and may function as a leukemia disease gene, in part, through its interaction with BCL6. During hematopoietic cell differentiation, this gene is down-regulated. It is possibly involved in lymphoma pathogenesis since translocations associated with B-cell malignancies also deregulates its expression. In addition, BCL11A has been found to play a role in the suppression of fetal hemoglobin production. Therapeutic strategies aimed at increasing fetal globin production in diseases such as beta thalassemia and sickle cell anemia by inhibiting BCL11A are currently being explored.

Furthermore, heterozygous de novo mutations in BCL11A have been identified in an intellectual disability disorder, accompanied with global developmental delay and autism spectrum disorder.[8] These mutations disrupt BCL11A homodimerization and transcriptional regulation.


BCL11A has been shown to interact with a number of proteins. BCL11A was initially discovered as a COUP-TFI interacting protein.[9] In the nucleus, BCL11A forms paraspeckles that co-localize with NONO.[8] In neurons, BCL11A interacts with CASK to regulate target genes.[6] Furthermore, BCL11A interacts with the neuron-specific protein TBR1, which is also implicated in intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder.[10]


  1. Satterwhite E, Sonoki T, Willis TG, Harder L, Nowak R, Arriola EL, Liu H, Price HP, Gesk S, Steinemann D, Schlegelberger B, Oscier DG, Siebert R, Tucker PW, Dyer MJ (December 2001). "The BCL11 gene family: involvement of BCL11A in lymphoid malignancies". Blood. 98 (12): 3413–20. doi:10.1182/blood.V98.12.3413. PMID 11719382.
  2. Uda M, Galanello R, Sanna S, Lettre G, Sankaran VG, Chen W, et al. (February 2008). "Genome-wide association study shows BCL11A associated with persistent fetal hemoglobin and amelioration of the phenotype of beta-thalassemia". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 105 (5): 1620–5. doi:10.1073/pnas.0711566105. PMC 2234194. PMID 18245381.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Entrez Gene: BCL11A B-cell CLL/lymphoma 11A (zinc finger protein)".
  4. Kadoch C, Hargreaves DC, Hodges C, Elias L, Ho L, Ranish J, Crabtree GR (June 2013). "Proteomic and bioinformatic analysis of mammalian SWI/SNF complexes identifies extensive roles in human malignancy". Nature Genetics. 45 (6): 592–601. doi:10.1038/ng.2628. PMC 3667980. PMID 23644491.
  5. Smith EC, Luc S, Croney DM, Woodworth MB, Greig LC, Fujiwara Y, Nguyen M, Sher F, Macklis JD, Bauer DE, Orkin SH (November 2016). "Bcl11a erythroid enhancer". Blood. 128 (19): 2338–2342. doi:10.1182/blood-2016-08-736249. PMC 5106112. PMID 27707736.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Kuo TY, Hong CJ, Chien HL, Hsueh YP (August 2010). "X-linked mental retardation gene CASK interacts with Bcl11A/CTIP1 and regulates axon branching and outgrowth". Journal of Neuroscience Research (in Deutsch). 88 (11): 2364–73. doi:10.1002/jnr.22407. PMID 20623620.
  7. Cánovas J, Berndt FA, Sepúlveda H, Aguilar R, Veloso FA, Montecino M, Oliva C, Maass JC, Sierralta J, Kukuljan M (May 2015). "The Specification of Cortical Subcerebral Projection Neurons Depends on the Direct Repression of TBR1 by CTIP1/BCL11a". The Journal of Neuroscience. 35 (19): 7552–64. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0169-15.2015. PMID 25972180.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dias C, Estruch SB, Graham SA, McRae J, Sawiak SJ, Hurst JA, Joss SK, Holder SE, Morton JE, Turner C, Thevenon J, Mellul K, Sánchez-Andrade G, Ibarra-Soria X, Deriziotis P, Santos RF, Lee SC, Faivre L, Kleefstra T, Liu P, Hurles ME, Fisher SE, Logan DW (August 2016). "BCL11A Haploinsufficiency Causes an Intellectual Disability Syndrome and Dysregulates Transcription". American Journal of Human Genetics. 99 (2): 253–74. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2016.05.030. PMC 4974071. PMID 27453576.
  9. Avram D, Fields A, Senawong T, Topark-Ngarm A, Leid M (December 2002). "COUP-TF (chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor)-interacting protein 1 (CTIP1) is a sequence-specific DNA binding protein". The Biochemical Journal. 368 (Pt 2): 555–63. doi:10.1042/bj20020496. PMC 1223006. PMID 12196208.
  10. den Hoed J, Sollis E, Venselaar H, Estruch SB, Deriziotis P, Fisher SE (September 2018). "Functional characterization of TBR1 variants in neurodevelopmental disorder". Scientific Reports. 8 (1): 14279. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-32053-6. PMC 6155134. PMID 30250039.

Further reading

External links

This article incorporates text from the United States National Library of Medicine, which is in the public domain.