Fetal hemoglobin in sickle cell anemia: Molecular characterization of the unusually high fetal hemoglobin phenotype in African Americans
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Fetal hemoglobin (HbF) is a major modifier of disease severity in sickle cell anemia (SCA). Three major HbF quantitative trait loci (QTL) are known: the Xmn I site upstream of (G)γ- globin gene (HBG2) on chromosome 11p15, BCL11A on chromosome 2p16, and HBS1L-MYB intergenic polymorphism (HMIP) on chromosome 6q23. However, the roles of these QTLs in patients with SCA with uncharacteristically high HbF are not known. We studied 20 African American patients with SCA with markedly elevated HbF (mean 17.2%). They had significantly higher minor allele frequencies (MAF) in two HbF QTLs, BCL11A, and HMIP, compared with those with low HbF. A 3-bp (TAC) deletion in complete linkage disequilibrium (LD) with the minor allele of rs9399137 in HMIP was also present significantly more often in these patients. To further explore other genetic loci that might be responsible for this high HbF, we sequenced a 14.1 kb DNA fragment between the (A)γ-(HBG1) and δ-globin genes (HBD). Thirty-eight SNPs were found. Four SNPs had significantly higher major allele frequencies in the unusually high HbF group. In silico analyses of these four polymorphisms predicted alteration in transcription factor binding sites in 3.
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