Analysis of the human alpha-globin gene cluster in transgenic mice.
Sharpe JA., Wells DJ., Whitelaw E., Vyas P., Higgs DR., Wood WG.
A 350-bp segment of DNA associated with an erythroid-specific DNase I-hypersensitive site (HS-40), upstream of the alpha-globin gene cluster, has been identified as the major tissue-specific regulator of the alpha-globin genes. However, this element does not direct copy number-dependent or developmentally stable expression of the human genes in transgenic mice. To determine whether additional upstream hypersensitive sites could provide more complete regulation of alpha gene expression we have studied 17 lines of transgenic mice bearing various DNA fragments containing HSs -33, -10, -8, and -4, in addition to HS -40. Position-independent, high-level expression of the human zeta- and alpha-globin genes was consistently observed in embryonic erythroid cells. However, the additional HSs did not confer copy-number dependence, alter the level of expression, or prevent the variable down-regulation of expression in adults. These results suggest that the region upstream of the human alpha-globin genes is not equivalent to that upstream of the beta locus and that although the two clusters are coordinately expressed, there may be differences in their regulation.