Human globin knock-in mice complete fetal-to-adult hemoglobin switching in postnatal development

Academic Article


  • Elevated levels of fetal γ-globin can cure disorders caused by mutations in the adult β-globin gene. This clinical finding has motivated studies to improve our understanding of hemoglobin switching. Unlike humans, mice do not express a distinct fetal globin. Transgenic mice that contain the human β-globin locus complete their fetal-to-adult hemoglobin switch prior to birth, with human γ-globin predominantly restricted to primitive erythroid cells. We established humanized (100% human hemoglobin) knock-in mice that demonstrate a distinct fetal hemoglobin (HbF) stage, where γ-globin is the dominant globin chain produced during mid- to late gestation. Human γ- and β-globin gene competition is evident around the time of birth, and γ-globin chain production diminishes in postnatal life, with transient production of HbF reticulocytes. Following completion of the γ- to-β-globin switch, adult erythroid cells synthesize low levels of HbF. We conclude that the knock-in globin genes are expressed in a pattern strikingly similar to that in human development, most notably with postnatal resolution of the fetal-to-adult hemoglobin switch. Our findings are consistent with the importance of BCL11A in hemoglobin switching, since removal of intergenic binding sites for BCL11A results in human γ-globin expression in mouse definitive erythroid cells. Copyright © 2011, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 23711772
  • Author List

  • McConnell SC; Huo Y; Liu S; Ryan TM
  • Start Page

  • 876
  • End Page

  • 883
  • Volume

  • 31
  • Issue

  • 4