Published July 1, 1981 - More info
Inheritance of the gene for betaE-globin is associated with hypochromia and microcytosis, reminiscent of typical heterozygous beta-thalassemia. Patients with hemoglobin (Hb)E-beta-thalassemia exhibit clinical phenotypes of severe beta-thalassemia, a circumstance not encountered in other compound heterozygous states for structural beta-chain mutations and beta-thalassemia. We have analyzed the kinetics of globin synthesis and the levels of globin messenger (m) RNA accumulation in patients with Hb E-beta-thalassemia and Hb E trait. The initial rate of beta-globin synthesis (betaE/alpha=0.20-0.34) was less than expected on the basis of gene dosage, or comparable studies of other compound heterozygous states for beta-thalassemia and structurally abnormal beta-chains. betaE-globin synthesis was not only reduced during short-term incubations (1-5 min), but also remained relatively unchanged during long-term pulse or chase incubations up to 5h. Analysis of globin mRNA by cell-free translation and molecular hybridization confirmed that the unexpectedly low levels of betaE-globin synthesis were associated with comparable reduction in the levels of beta-globin mRNA. In Hb E-beta-thalassemia the betaA + betaE (alpha globin nRNA ratio observed were substantially lower than those obtained from reticulocytes of patients with heterozygous beta-thalassemia, or Hb S-betaO-thalassemia, while in Hb E trait, the betaA + betaE/alpha mRNA ratio was in the ranged observed for beta-thalassemia trait. The betaE-globin gene specifies reduced accumulation of betaE-globin mRNA, a property characteristic of other forms of beta-thalassemia. The beta-thalassemia phenotype associated with inheritance of Hb E is thus determined at the level of beta-globin mRNA metabolism.