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We have identified a remote, tissue-specific, positive regulatory element that is of major importance in determining the level of human alpha-globin gene expression. Stable transformants containing this DNA segment linked to the alpha gene in mouse erythroleukemia cells expressed human alpha mRNA at levels that are indistinguishable from those seen in interspecific hybrids containing the human alpha genes in their normal context on chromosome 16. Furthermore, all transgenic mice containing the alpha genes linked to this region expressed alpha-globin mRNA at high levels in erythroid tissues; and in one such mouse, readily detectable levels of human alpha-globin chains could be demonstrated in the peripheral blood. There is considerable similarity in the position, structure, and function of this region upstream of the alpha-globin complex with previously described elements within the beta-globin dominant control region (DCR). This is m marked contrast to other structural and functional differences between the two gene clusters. It seems likely that these critical, positive regulatory regions might provide target sequences through which coordinate regulation of the alpha- and beta-like globin genes is achieved.

Original publication




Journal article


Genes & development

Publication Date





1588 - 1601


Medical Research Council Molecular Haematology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford, UK.


Erythrocytes, Tumor Cells, Cultured, Animals, Mice, Transgenic, Humans, Mice, Leukemia, Erythroblastic, Acute, Deoxyribonuclease I, Globins, Transfection, Organ Specificity, Gene Expression Regulation, Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid, Multigene Family