Detection of a major gene for heterocellular hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin after accounting for genetic modifiers.
Thein SL., Sampietro M., Rohde K., Rochette J., Weatherall DJ., Lathrop GM., Demenais F.
"Heterocellular hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin" (HPFH) is the term used to describe the genetically determined persistence of fetal hemoglobin (Hb F) production into adult life, in the absence of any related hematological disorder. Whereas some forms are caused by mutations in the beta-globin gene cluster on chromosome 11, others segregate independently. While the latter are of particular interest with respect to the regulation of globin gene switching, it has not been possible to determine their chromosomal location, mainly because their mode of inheritance is not clear, but also because several other factors are known to modify Hb F production. We have examined a large Asian Indian pedigree which includes individuals with heterocellular HPFH associated with beta-thalassemia and/or alpha-thalassemia. Segregation analysis was conducted on the HPFH trait FC, defined to be the percentage of Hb F-containing cells (F-cells), using the class D regressive model. Our results provide evidence for the presence of a major gene, dominant or codominant, which controls the FC values with residual familial correlations. The major gene was detected when the effects of genetic modifiers, notably beta-thalassemia and the XmnI-G gamma polymorphism, are accounted for in the analysis. Linkage with the beta-globin gene cluster is excluded. The transmission of the FC values in this pedigree is informative enough to allow detection of linkage with an appropriate marker(s). The analytical approach outlined in this study, using simple regression to allow for genetic modifiers and thus allowing the mode of inheritance of a trait to be dissected out, may be useful as a model for segregation and linkage analyses of other complex phenotypes.