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Int J Hematol. 2002 Dec;76(5):420-6.

The control of expression of the alpha-globin gene cluster.

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National Laboratory of Medical Molecular Biology, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, P. R. China.


The alpha-globin gene cluster is located at the very tip of the short arm of chromosome 16. It produces the alpha-like globins, which is combined with the beta-like globins to form hemoglobin, and its mutants cause alpha-thalassemia, which is one of the most common genetic diseases. Its expression shows a tissue and developmental stage specificity that is balanced with that of the beta-globin gene cluster. In this article, we summarize the research on the control of expression of the alpha-globin gene cluster, mainly with respect to the alpha-major regulatory element (alpha-MRE): HS-40, the tissue-specific and developmental control of its expression, and its chromosomal environment. In summary, the alpha-globin gene cluster is expressed in an open chromosomal environment; HS-40, the 5'-flanking sequence, the transcribed region, and the 3'-flanking sequence interact to fully regulate its expression.

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