Gamma-globin chain synthesis has been evaluated in individual bursts and subcolonies that were generated by normal adult blood BFU-Es in methylcellulose cultures containing semipurified erythropoietin (Ep) and then analyzed via either isoelectric focusing (IEF) of globin chains or immunofluorescence techniques. At variance with previously reported results, based on plasma clot culture and immunofluorescence, all bursts and subcolonies analyzed synthesize gamma-globin chains. Identification of gamma-chains has been confirmed by preparative IEF of HbF, followed by either carboxymethylcellulose chromatography or IEF analysis of the resulting globin chains. In all bursts analyzed, the relative synthesis of the two types of gamma-globin chains (G gamma and A gamma) shows an adult ratio (i.e., approximately 1:1). The results obtained via IEF have been confirmed by immunofluorescence studies, which apparently showed presence of at least some HbF-positive cells within all scrutinized bursts or subcolonies. The significance of these studies is discussed in the light of current hypotheses on mechanism(s) underlying HbF synthesis in normal adults.

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