Author(s): Liebhaber SA, Cash FE, Ballas SK
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Abstract The two human alpha-globin genes, alpha 1 and alpha 2, are coexpressed in normal erythroid cells and encode identical alpha-globin protein products. Based upon genetic studies, it has been assumed that these two adjacent and highly homologous genes are equally expressed. In previous studies we have, however, demonstrated that the alpha 2 gene encodes a 2-3-fold higher steady state level of mRNA than the alpha 1 gene. In the present study, we monitor the relative levels of protein production from these two loci by quantitating the synthesis of specific alpha-globin structural mutants encoded by each alpha-globin gene. These values are then used to infer the relative contributions of the normal alpha 1 and alpha 2 loci to total alpha-globin production. The results of eight separate studies, each based upon a different alpha-globin structural mutant mapped to either the alpha 1 or the alpha 2 locus, are internally consistent. The data demonstrate that the alpha 2 gene encodes 2-3-fold more protein than the alpha 1 gene. These results suggest that the human alpha-globin gene cluster contains a major and a minor locus. The dominant expression of the alpha 2 gene predicts a greater impact of mutations at this locus, in comparison to mutations at the alpha 1 locus, in the generation of the alpha-thalassemia phenotype.
This article was published in J Biol Chem
and referenced in Journal of Molecular Biomarkers & Diagnosis