The molecular mechanisms governing γ-globin expression in a subset of fetal hemoglobin (α2γ2: HbF) expressing red blood cells (F-cells) and the mechanisms underlying the variability of response to hydroxyurea induced γ-globin expression in the treatment of sickle cell disease are not completely understood. Here we analyzed intra-person clonal populations of basophilic erythroblasts (baso-Es) derived from bone marrow common myeloid progenitors in serum free cultures and report the level of fetal hemoglobin production in F-cells negatively correlates with expression of BCL11A, KLF1 and TAL1. We then examined the effects of hydroxyurea on these three transcription factors and conclude that a successful induction of γ-globin includes a reduction in BCL11A, KLF1 and TAL1 expression. These data suggests that expression changes in this transcription factor network modulate γ-globin expression in F-cells during steady state erythropoiesis and after induction with hydroxyurea.
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