Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jun 11;93(12):5693-8.

Modifications of RNA processing modulate the expression of hemoglobin genes.

Author information

Laboratory of Chemical Biology and Diabetes Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The developmental changes in hemoglobin gene expression known as "switching" involve both the sequential activation and silencing of the individual globin genes. We postulated that in addition to changes in transcription, posttranscriptional mechanisms may be involved in modulating globin gene expression. We studied globin RNA transcripts in human adult erythroid cells (hAEC to analyze the mechanism of silencing of the embryonic epsilon-globin gene in the adult stage and in K562 erythroleukemic cells to analyze the inactive state of their adult beta-globin genes. In hAEC, which express primarily the beta-globin gene, quantitative PCR analysis shows that beta-mRNA exon levels are high and comparable among the three exons; the RNA transcripts corresponding to exons of the gamma-globin gene are low, with slight differences among the three exons. Although epsilon-globin is not expressed, epsilon-globin RNA transcripts are detected, with exon I levels comparable to that of gamma-globin exon I and much higher than epsilon-exons II and III. As expected, in K562 cells that express high levels of epsilon- and gamma-globin, epsilon- and gamma-mRNA levels are high, with comparable levels of exons I, II, and III. In K562 cells beta-mRNA levels are very low but beta-exon I levels are much higher than that of exons II or III. Moreover, all or most of the globin transcripts for the highly expressed globin genes in both cell types (gamma and beta in hAEC, epsilon and gamma in K562 cells) found in the cytoplasm or nucleus are correctly processed. The globin transcripts that are detected both in the cytoplasm and nucleus of cells without expression of the corresponding protein are largely unspliced (containing one or two intervening sequences). These studies suggest that in addition to changes in transcription rates, changes in completion or processing of globin RNA transcripts may contribute to the developmental regulation of the hemoglobin phenotype.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center