The most common forms of hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin synthesis (HPFH) and delta beta zero-thalassemia result from simple deletions of the beta-globin gene cluster or from point mutations in the gamma-globin gene promoters. These naturally occurring mutants extend our understanding of globin gene regulation and hemoglobin switching. Furthermore, they provide the opportunity to test in vivo hypothetical switching models that are based on the experimental approach. We report here a family with delta beta zero-thalassemia from Turkey with a complex rearrangement of the beta-globin gene cluster that involves two deletions of 11.5 kb and 1.6 kb, and an inversion of 7.6 kb. The larger deletion removes both the delta-and the beta-globin genes with 3′ flanking sequences, whereas the smaller deletion affects DNA of unknown function. The inversion contains the entire L1 repeat 3′ of the beta-globin gene. There are structural motifs near the breakpoints (introduction of an “orphan” nucleotide, multiple direct and inverted repeats) suggesting a nonhomologous type of recombination event. The hematologic phenotype and the molecular structure of the rearranged beta-globin gene cluster are consistent with a competitive relationship between the fetal and the adult globin genes and/or with the translocation of enhancer sequences into the gamma-globin gene region.
- Copyright © 1992 by The American Society of Hematology