Inactivation of human alpha-globin gene expression by a de novo deletion located upstream of the alpha-globin gene cluster.
Liebhaber SA., Griese EU., Weiss I., Cash FE., Ayyub H., Higgs DR., Horst J.
Synthesis of normal human hemoglobin A, alpha 2 beta 2, is based upon balanced expression of genes in the alpha-globin gene cluster on chromosome 16 and the beta-globin gene cluster on chromosome 11. Full levels of erythroid-specific activation of the beta-globin cluster depend on sequences located at a considerable distance 5' to the beta-globin gene, referred to as the locus-activating or dominant control region. The existence of an analogous element(s) upstream of the alpha-globin cluster has been suggested from observations on naturally occurring deletions and experimental studies. We have identified an individual with alpha-thalassemia in whom structurally normal alpha-globin genes have been inactivated in cis by a discrete de novo 35-kilobase deletion located approximately 30 kilobases 5' from the alpha-globin gene cluster. We conclude that this deletion inactivates expression of the alpha-globin genes by removing one or more of the previously identified upstream regulatory sequences that are critical to expression of the alpha-globin genes.