We have characterized a new deletion that increases hemoglobin F synthesis in an American black woman who is doubly heterozygous for this mutation and the beta S-gene. The 5 ' endpoint is 2.4 +/- 0.1 kilobases (kb) upstream from the delta-globin gene, and the 3′ endpoint is 0.2 +/- 0.1 kb downstream from the beta-globin gene; the deletion is 12 kb long. Both members of the Alu moderately repetitive DNA sequence family, normally present upstream from the delta-globin gene, are preserved. The patient is asymptomatic with a mild anemia and 24.8% HbF. The patient's husband and daughter have a similar clinical syndrome, with HbF levels of 22.4% and 25.4%, respectively. Both husband and daughter are doubly heterozygous for the beta S-gene and the Ghana type of hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin (HPFH) deletion (HPFH-2). The 5′ end of this deletion is in the psi beta-gene, and its total length is more than 70 kb. All three members of the family have normocytic red cells, of which 95% or more are F cells as detected by immunofluorescence. Previous studies have shown that culture of the erythroid progenitors (BFU-E) from both types of these compound heterozygotes in the presence of fetal sheep serum, rich in 'switching factor,” resulted in complete suppression of HbF synthesis. Although the newly described deletion resembles the Sicilian type of delta beta-thalassemia by its size and preservation of the Alu sequences, the clinical and biological phenotype produced by its interaction with the beta S-gene is very similar to that of the HPFH- type deletion.

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