Editing an α-globin enhancer in primary human hematopoietic stem cells as a treatment for β-thalassemia.
Mettananda S., Fisher CA., Hay D., Badat M., Quek L., Clark K., Hublitz P., Downes D., Kerry J., Gosden M., Telenius J., Sloane-Stanley JA., Faustino P., Coelho A., Doondeea J., Usukhbayar B., Sopp P., Sharpe JA., Hughes JR., Vyas P., Gibbons RJ., Higgs DR.
β-Thalassemia is one of the most common inherited anemias, with no effective cure for most patients. The pathophysiology reflects an imbalance between α- and β-globin chains with an excess of free α-globin chains causing ineffective erythropoiesis and hemolysis. When α-thalassemia is co-inherited with β-thalassemia, excess free α-globin chains are reduced significantly ameliorating the clinical severity. Here we demonstrate the use of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing of primary human hematopoietic stem/progenitor (CD34+) cells to emulate a natural mutation, which deletes the MCS-R2 α-globin enhancer and causes α-thalassemia. When edited CD34+ cells are differentiated into erythroid cells, we observe the expected reduction in α-globin expression and a correction of the pathologic globin chain imbalance in cells from patients with β-thalassemia. Xenograft assays show that a proportion of the edited CD34+ cells are long-term repopulating hematopoietic stem cells, demonstrating the potential of this approach for translation into a therapy for β-thalassemia.β-thalassemia is characterised by the presence of an excess of α-globin chains, which contribute to erythrocyte pathology. Here the authors use CRISP/Cas9 to reduce α-globin expression in hematopoietic precursors, and show effectiveness in xenograft assays in mice.