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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Oct 15;88(20):8953-7.

A DNA-binding factor in adult hematopoietic cells interacts with a pyrimidine-rich domain upstream from the human delta-globin gene.

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Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Department of Genetics, New York, NY 10032.


To date, DNA-binding factors with a developmental pattern of expression have not been described in human erythroid cells to explain the switch from fetal (gamma-) to adult (delta- and beta-) globin gene expression. Here we describe a factor present in nuclear extracts from adult mouse and human hematopoietic cells that binds to an oligopyrimidine repeat approximately 960 base pairs upstream from the human delta-globin gene. The binding site for the factor is within an unusual 250-base-pair domain that is greater than 95% pyrimidines on one strand. This domain is preferentially sensitive to S1 nuclease in supercoiled plasmids, indicating that it can adopt an alternative non-B-DNA conformation. A number of S1-sensitive sites within the domain, including the factor-binding site, have sequence characteristics associated with the formation of a triple helix (H-DNA). The position of the binding site between the fetal and adult beta-globin-like genes, its potential for adopting an unusual secondary structure, and the restricted activity of the binding factor to adult hematopoietic tissues suggest possible roles in hematopoietic cell development and hemoglobin switching.

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