The CD34 antigen defines a subset of hematopoietic progenitor cells with self-renewal capacity and the ability to reconstitute hematopoiesis in irradiated primates and marrow-ablated humans, but its function remains unknown. The c-myb protooncogene plays a fundamental role in hematopoiesis, most likely via its transcriptional regulator function. We report that c-myb protein transactivates the CD34 promoter via specific interaction with multiple Myb binding sites in the 5' flanking region of the gene and induces expression of the endogenous CD34 mRNA in rodent fibroblasts. Also, constitutive expression of c-myb in CD34-negative human glioblastoma cells induces expression of CD34 mRNA and synthesis of the surface membrane antigen. These data directly demonstrate that c-myb regulates the expression of the hematopoietic stem cell antigen CD34 and raise the possibility that c-myb regulates hematopoiesis inducing a cascade of differentiation-related events.

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