A zinc-finger transcriptional activator designed to interact with the gamma-globin gene promoters enhances fetal hemoglobin production in primary human adult erythroblasts.

Wilber A, Tschulena U, Hargrove PW, Kim YS, Persons DA, Barbas CF 3rd, Nienhuis AW.
Source: Blood
Publication Date: (2010)
Issue: 115(15): 3033-41
Research Area:
Stem Cells
Basic Research
Cells used in publication:
CD34+ cell, human
Species: human
Tissue Origin: blood
Fetal hemoglobin (HbF) is a potent genetic modifier of the severity of beta-thalassemia and sickle cell anemia. We used an in vitro culture model of human erythropoiesis in which late-stage erythroblasts are derived directly from human CD34(+) hematopoietic cells to evaluate HbF production. This system recapitulates expression of globin genes according to the developmental stage of the originating cell source. When cytokine-mobilized peripheral blood CD34(+) cells from adults were cultured, background levels of HbF were 2% or less. Cultured cells were readily transduced with lentiviral vectors when exposed to vector particles between 48 and 72 hours. Among the genetic elements that may enhance fetal hemoglobin production is an artificial zinc-finger transcription factor, GG1-VP64, designed to interact with the proximal gamma-globin gene promoters. Our data show that lentiviral-mediated, enforced expression of GG1-VP64 under the control of relatively weak erythroid-specific promoters induced significant amounts of HbF (up to 20%) in erythroblasts derived from adult CD34(+) cells without altering their capacity for erythroid maturation and only modestly reducing the total numbers of cells that accumulate in culture after transduction. These observations demonstrate the potential for sequence-specific enhancement of HbF in patients with beta-thalassemia or sickle cell anemia.