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BMC Med Genet. 2017 Aug 29;18(1):93. doi: 10.1186/s12881-017-0450-3.

An Aγ-globin G->A gene polymorphism associated with β039 thalassemia globin gene and high fetal hemoglobin production.

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Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Ferrara University, Via Fossato di Mortara 74, 44121, Ferrara, Italy.
Biotechnology Center, Ferrara University, Ferrara, Italy.
Department of Medical Sciences - Pediatry, Ferrara University, Ferrara, Italy.
Department of Transfusional Medicine - ULSS 18, Rovigo, Italy.
Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Ferrara University, Via Fossato di Mortara 74, 44121, Ferrara, Italy.
Biotechnology Center, Ferrara University, Ferrara, Italy.



Increase of the expression of γ-globin gene and high production of fetal hemoglobin (HbF) in β-thalassemia patients is widely accepted as associated with a milder or even asymptomatic disease. The search for HbF-associated polymorphisms (such as the XmnI, BCL11A and MYB polymorphisms) has recently gained great attention, in order to stratify β-thalassemia patients with respect to expectancy of the first transfusion, need for annual intake of blood, response to HbF inducers (the most studied of which is hydroxyurea).


Aγ-globin gene sequencing was performed on genomic DNA isolated from a total of 75 β-thalassemia patients, including 31 β039/β039, 33 β039/β+IVSI-110, 9 β+IVSI-110/β+IVSI-110, one β0IVSI-1/β+IVSI-6 and one β039/β+IVSI-6.


The results show that the rs368698783 polymorphism is present in β-thalassemia patients in the 5'UTR sequence (+25) of the Aγ-globin gene, known to affect the LYAR (human homologue of mouse Ly-1 antibody reactive clone) binding site 5'-GGTTAT-3'. This Aγ(+25 G->A) polymorphism is associated with the Gγ-globin-XmnI polymorphism and both are linked with the β039-globin gene, but not with the β+IVSI-110-globin gene. In agreement with the expectation that this mutation alters the LYAR binding activity, we found that the Aγ(+25 G->A) and Gγ-globin-XmnI polymorphisms are associated with high HbF in erythroid precursor cells isolated from β039/β039 thalassemia patients.


As a potential explanation of our findings, we hypothesize that in β-thalassemia the Gγ-globin-XmnI/Aγ-globin-(G->A) genotype is frequently under genetic linkage with β0-thalassemia mutations, but not with the β+-thalassemia mutation here studied (i.e. β+IVSI-110) and that this genetic combination has been selected within the population of β0-thalassemia patients, due to functional association with high HbF. Here we describe the characterization of the rs368698783 (+25 G->A) polymorphism of the Aγ-globin gene associated in β039 thalassemia patients with high HbF in erythroid precursor cells.


Aγ-globin gene polymorphism; Fetal hemoglobin; LYAR; β-thalassemia

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