alpha-thalassemia resulting from a negative chromosomal position effect.
Barbour VM., Tufarelli C., Sharpe JA., Smith ZE., Ayyub H., Heinlein CA., Sloane-Stanley J., Indrak K., Wood WG., Higgs DR.
To date, all of the chromosomal deletions that cause alpha-thalassemia remove the structural alpha genes and/or their regulatory element (HS -40). A unique deletion occurs in a single family that juxtaposes a region that normally lies approximately 18-kilobase downstream of the human alpha cluster, next to a structurally normal alpha-globin gene, and silences its expression. During development, the CpG island associated with the alpha-globin promoter in the rearranged chromosome becomes densely methylated and insensitive to endonucleases, demonstrating that the normal chromatin structure around the alpha-globin gene is perturbed by this mutation and that the gene is inactivated by a negative chromosomal position effect. These findings highlight the importance of the chromosomal environment in regulating globin gene expression.