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Blood. 1997 Dec 1;90(11):4602-9.

The human beta globin locus introduced by YAC transfer exhibits a specific and reproducible pattern of developmental regulation in transgenic mice.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, San Francisco, USA.


The human beta globin locus spans an 80-kb chromosomal region encompassing both the five expressed globin genes and the cis-acting elements that direct their stage-specific expression during ontogeny. Sequences proximal to the genes and in the locus control region, 60 kb upstream of the adult beta globin gene, are required for developmental regulation. Transgenic studies have shown that altering the structural organization of the locus disrupts the normal pattern of globin gene regulation. Procedures for introducing yeast artificial chromosomes (YACs) containing large genetic loci now make it possible to define the sequences required for stage-restricted gene expression in constructs that preserve the integrity of the beta globin locus. We demonstrate that independent YAC transgenic lines exhibit remarkably similar patterns of globin gene expression during development. The switch from gamma to beta globin predominant expression occurs between day 11.5 and 12.5 of gestation, with no more than twofold differences in human beta globin mRNA levels between lines. Human beta globin mRNA levels were twofold to fourfold lower than that of mouse betamaj, revealing potentially significant differences in the regulatory sequences of the two loci. These findings provide an important basis for studying regulatory elements within the beta globin locus.

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