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J Biol Chem. 1987 Dec 15;262(35):17051-7.

Expression of human gamma-globin genes in human erythroleukemia (K562) cells.

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


K562 cells express embryonic (epsilon) and fetal (gamma) globins and hemoglobins but not adult (beta) globin. To define the cis acting regulatory elements involved in the discrimination between gamma and beta genes, we have constructed chimeric genes composed of portions of gamma and beta and evaluated their expression in stable K562 transfectants. A gamma beta fusion gene containing gamma 5' sequences to the EcoRI site in exon 3 and beta sequences 3' is expressed at 10-40% that of the endogenous gamma level. In 50% of the lines, this fusion gene appropriately increases its expression in response to hemin, an inducer of endogenous globin gene expression in K562 cells. In contrast, a beta gamma fusion gene, containing beta sequences 5' to the EcoRI site in exon 3 and gamma sequences 3', is neither expressed nor correctly initiated. A beta gene containing gamma-intervening sequence (IVS) 2 accumulates an mRNA transcript when analyzed with a 3' beta probe. However, no correctly initiated beta mRNA is observed. A gamma gene with beta-IVS 2 is only inducible in one of six expressing clones. All the results are consistent with the presence of stage-specific trans acting factors in K562 cells that stimulate expression of gamma genes and suggest a significant role for gamma-IVS 2 in gamma gene expression.

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