Recombinant erythroid Kruppel-like factor fused to GATA1 up-regulates delta- and gamma-globin expression in erythroid cells

Jianqiong Zhu, Kyung Chin, Wulin Aerbajinai, Cecelia Trainor, Peter Gao and Griffin P. Rodgers


The β-hemoglobinopathies sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia are among the most common human genetic disorders worldwide. Hemoglobin A2 (HbA2, α2δ2) and fetal hemoglobin (HbF, α2γ2) both inhibit the polymerization of hemoglobin S, which results in erythrocyte sickling. Expression of erythroid Kruppel-like factor (EKLF) and GATA1 is critical for transitioning hemoglobin from HbF to hemoglobin A (HbA, α2β2) and HbA2. The lower levels of δ-globin expression compared with β-globin expression seen in adulthood are likely due to the absence of an EKLF-binding motif in the δ-globin proximal promoter. In an effort to up-regulate δ-globin to increase HbA2 expression, we created a series of EKLF-GATA1 fusion constructs composed of the transactivation domain of EKLF and the DNA-binding domain of GATA1, and then tested their effects on hemoglobin expression. EKLF-GATA1 fusion proteins activated δ-, γ-, and β-globin promoters in K562 cells, and significantly up-regulated δ- and γ-globin RNA transcript and protein expression in K562 and/or CD34+ cells. The binding of EKLF-GATA1 fusion proteins at the GATA1 consensus site in the δ-globin promoter was confirmed by chromatin immunoprecipitation assay. Our studies demonstrate that EKLF-GATA1 fusion proteins can enhance δ-globin expression through interaction with the δ-globin promoter, and may represent a new genetic therapeutic approach to β-hemoglobinopathies.  

  • Submitted July 6, 2010.
  • Accepted December 17, 2010.
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