A long noncoding RNA from the HBS1L-MYB intergenic region on chr6q23 regulates human fetal hemoglobin expression
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The HBS1L-MYB intergenic region (chr6q23) regulates erythroid cell proliferation, maturation, and fetal hemoglobin (HbF) expression. An enhancer element within this locus, highlighted by a 3-bp deletion polymorphism (rs66650371), is known to interact with the promoter of the neighboring gene, MYB, to increase its expression, thereby regulating HbF production. RNA polymerase II binding and a 50-bp transcript from this enhancer region reported in ENCODE datasets suggested the presence of a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA). We characterized a novel 1283bp transcript (HMI-LNCRNA; chr6:135,096,362-135,097,644; hg38) that was transcribed from the enhancer region of MYB. Within erythroid cells, HMI-LNCRNA was almost exclusively present in nucleus, and was much less abundant than the mRNA for MYB. HMI-LNCRNA expression was significantly higher in erythroblasts derived from cultured adult peripheral blood CD34+ cells which expressed more HBB, compared to erythroblasts from cultured cord blood CD34+ cells which expressed much more HBG. Down-regulation of HMI-LNCRNA in HUDEP-2 cells, which expressed mostly HBB, significantly upregulated HBG expression both at the mRNA (200-fold) and protein levels, and promoted erythroid maturation. No change was found in the expression of BCL11A and other key transcription factors known to modulate HBG expression. HMI-LNCRNA plays an important role in regulating HBG expression, and its downregulation can result in a significant increase in HbF. HMI-LNCRNA might be a potential therapeutic target for HbF induction treatment in sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia.
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