Human embryonic zeta-globin chains in adult patients with alpha-thalassemias.
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Human embryonic zeta-globin chains are alpha-globin-like chains that are normally present during the first three months of gestation. In this investigation, zeta-globin chains measured by a specific and sensitive radioimmunoassay and by an electrophoretic technique were found to be present in all 7 patients studied with hereditary Hb H disease, and in 8 out of 24 patients with alpha-thalassemia trait. zeta-Globin chains were not detected in 20 other patients with beta-thalassemia trait. These results suggest that the deletion of two alpha-globin genes on the same chromosome is accompanied by the continued expression of embryonic zeta-globin genes in adult individuals.
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