All pharmacologic agents that induce fetal hemoglobin (Hb) have been discovered with in vivo studies of humans, macaques, and baboons. We tested whether transgenic mice carrying human fetal (gamma) globin genes provide a model for studying the pharmacologic induction of HbF in the adult. In initial studies, phenylhydrazine-induced hemolytic anemia, 5-azacytidine, butyrate, or combinations of these treatments failed to activate the human gamma-globin gene in a transgenic mouse line carrying a 4.4-kb G gamma globin gene construct that is expressed only in the embryonic stage of mouse development. Subsequently, adult mice carrying the human A gamma gene linked to the locus control region (LCR) regulatory sequences and expressing heterocellularly HbF (about 25%, gamma-positive cells) were used. Treatments with erythropoietin, 5- azacytidine, hydroxyurea, or butyrate resulted in induction of gamma gene expression as documented by measurement of F-reticulocytes, the gamma/gamma + beta biosynthetic ratio and the level of steady state gamma mRNA. Administration of erythropoietin or butyrate to transgenic mice carrying a muLCR-beta (human) globin construct, failed to increase human beta-globin expression. These results suggest that the muLCR-A gamma transgenic mice provide a new model for studying the induction of fetal Hb in the adult.

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