Preferential induction of fetal versus embryonic globin chains in human leukemic cell lines

A. M. Gianni, M. Presta, E. Polli, C. Peschle, F. Lettieri, G. Saglio, P. Comi, B. Giglioni, S. Ottolenghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By use of a newly developed technique combining affinity chromatography of hemoglobin on haptoglobin-Sepharose and IEF of globin chains, we analyzed the globin synthetic pattern of human K562 cells in both the basal state and after addition of several potential inducers. Hemin only was found effective: its addition at 50 μM results in a quantitative increase of globin chain synthesis (from 0.3 to 1% up to 5%) and a qualitative "switch" with a striking increase of α and a decrease of ε{lunate} and ξ chains (relative to the prevailing γ chains). This system, in which hemin induces changes that mimic to some extent the normal embryonic-fetal switch, might therefore provide a cellular model for investigating molecular mechanisms of globin gene regulation. In addition similar results were obtained with a different human myeloid leukemia cell line, the KG1, thus raising the possibility that the expression of embryonic globin genes in malignant cells might not be simply the consequence of abnormal gene expression but rather reflect a possibly physiological differentiation phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-163
Number of pages9
JournalLeukemia Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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