Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Fetal hemoglobin levels in sickle cell disease and normal individuals are partially controlled by an X-linked gene located at Xp22.2

  1. GJ Dover,
  2. KD Smith,
  3. YC Chang,
  4. S Purvis,
  5. A Mays,
  6. DA Meyers,
  7. C Sheils, and
  8. G Serjeant
  1. Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205.

Abstract

Fetal hemoglobin (Hb F) production in sickle cell (SS) disease and in normal individuals varies over a 20-fold range and is under genetic control. Previous studies suggested that variant Hb F levels might be controlled by genetic loci separate from the beta-globin complex on chromosome 11. Using microscopic radial immunodiffusion and flow cytometric immunofluorescent assays to determine the percentage of F reticulocytes and F cells in SS and nonanemic individuals, we observed that F-cell levels were significantly higher in nonanemic females than males (mean +/- SD, 3.8% +/- 3.2% v 2.7% +/- 2.3%). F-cell production as determined by F reticulocyte levels in SS females was also higher than in SS males (17% +/- 10% v 13% +/- 8%). We tested the hypothesis that F-cell production in both normal and anemic SS individuals was controlled by an X-linked locus with two alleles, high (H) and low (L). Using an algorithm to determine the 99.8% confidence interval of a normal distribution in nonanemic individuals, we estimated that males and females with at least one H allele had greater than 3.3% F cells. Comparisons of male-male or female-female SS sib pairs with discordant F reticulocyte levels distinguished two phenotypes in SS males (L, less than 12%; H, greater than 12%) and three phenotypes in SS females (LL, less than 12%; HL, 12% to 24%, HH greater than 24%). Linkage analysis using polymorphic restriction sites along the X chromosome in eight SS and one AA family localized the F-cell production (FCP) locus to Xp22.2, with a maximum lod score (logarithm of odds of linkage v independent assortment) of 4.6 at a recombination fraction of 0.04.