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Cell. 1981 Dec;27(3 Pt 2):543-53.

Unstable beta-globin mRNA in mRNA-deficient beta o thalassemia.

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  • 1McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706.


The molecular defect in four Kurdish Jews with homozygous, mRNA-deficient beta zero thalassemia was investigated. Electrophoretic profiles of pulse-labeled alpha- and beta-globin RNAs are similar to those of non-thalassemics; therefore, at least one of the thalassemic beta-globin alleles is transcribed. During a 30 min actinomycin D chase, most of the alpha- and beta-globin mRNA precursors and processing intermediates are converted to mRNA-sized RNA. Thalassemic and non-thalassemic beta-globin RNAs are indistinguishable, as determined by S1 nuclease mapping and RNA blotting. Non-thalassemic beta-globin mRNA is stable during a 30 min actinomycin chase, but 30%-75% of the thalassemic mRNA-sized molecules is degraded during that period. We conclude that the absence of beta-globin mRNA in this disease results from rapid turnover of beta-globin mRNA-sized molecules.

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