In addition to local sequence elements the regulation of the high-level, development- and tissue-specific expression of the human beta globin gene cluster appears to require distant regulatory sequences which have been termed locus control region. In the chromatin of erythroid cells the locus control region is characterized by four DNaseI hypersensitive sites that are located 6-18 kb 5' of the epsilon globin gene. The definition of the sequences minimally required for locus control region activity is likely to further the understanding of its physiology and will be of interest for the development of somatic gene therapy strategies of the hemoglobinopathies. We present here the analysis of a family with a 3,030-bp deletion of sequences upstream of the epsilon globin gene including the most 3' locus control region element and cosegregating beta(0) thalassemia. The deletion is linked in cis to a structurally and functionally normal beta globin gene. The proximal element of the locus control region does not therefore appear to be necessary for beta globin gene activity in vivo.
A E Kulozik, S Bail, A Bellan-Koch, C R Bartram, E Kohne, E Kleihauer