Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Flipping a gene switch reactivates fetal hemoglobin, may reverse sickle cell disease

Date:
December 8, 2013
Source:
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Summary:
Hematology researchers have manipulated key biological events in adult blood cells to produce a form of hemoglobin normally absent after the newborn period. Because fetal hemoglobin is unaffected by the genetic defect in sickle cell disease, these cell culture findings may open the door to a new therapy for the debilitating blood disorder.

A chromatin loop forms when an enhancer and a promoter, two widely separated elements in a DNA sequence, come into contact as they carry out gene activity.
Credit: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Hematology researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have manipulated key biological events in adult blood cells to produce a form of hemoglobin normally absent after the newborn period. Because this fetal hemoglobin is unaffected by the genetic defect in sickle cell disease (SCD), the cell culture findings may open the door to a new therapy for the debilitating blood disorder.

Related Articles


"Our study shows the power of a technique called forced chromatin looping in reprogramming gene expression in blood-forming cells," said hematology researcher Jeremy W. Rupon, M.D., Ph.D., of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "If we can translate this approach to humans, we may enable new treatment options for patients."

Rupon presented the team's findings today at a press conference during the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in New Orleans. Rupon worked in collaboration with a former postdoctoral fellow, Wulan Deng, Ph.D., in the laboratory of Gerd Blobel, M.D., Ph.D.

Hematologists have long sought to reactivate fetal hemoglobin as a treatment for children and adults with SCD, the painful, sometimes life-threatening genetic disorder that deforms red blood cells and disrupts normal circulation.

In the normal course of development, a biological switch flips during the production of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells. Regulatory elements in DNA shift the body from producing the fetal form of hemoglobin to producing the adult form instead. This transition occurs shortly after birth. When patients with SCD undergo this transition, their inherited gene mutation distorts adult hemoglobin, forcing red blood cells to assume a sickled shape.

In the current study, Rupon and Blobel reprogrammed gene expression to reverse the biological switch, causing cells to resume producing fetal hemoglobin, which is not affected by the SCD mutation, and produces normally shaped red blood cells.

The scientists built on previous work by Blobel's team showing that chromatin looping, a tightly regulated interaction between widely separated DNA sequences, drives gene transcription -- the conversion of DNA code into RNA messages to carry out biological processes.

In the current study, the researchers used a specialized tool, a genetically engineered zinc finger (ZF) protein, which they custom-designed to latch onto a specific DNA site carrying the code for fetal hemoglobin. They attached the ZF to another protein that forced a chromatin loop to form. The loop then activated gene expression that produced embryonic hemoglobin in blood-forming cells from adult mice. The team obtained similar results in human adult red blood cells, forcing the cells to produce fetal hemoglobin.

Rupon and Blobel will continue investigations aimed at moving their research toward clinical application. Rupon added that the approach may also prove useful in treating other diseases of hemoglobin, such as thalassemia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Flipping a gene switch reactivates fetal hemoglobin, may reverse sickle cell disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131208133646.htm>.
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. (2013, December 8). Flipping a gene switch reactivates fetal hemoglobin, may reverse sickle cell disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131208133646.htm
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Flipping a gene switch reactivates fetal hemoglobin, may reverse sickle cell disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131208133646.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) A wave of flu illnesses has forced some Ohio schools to shut down over the past week. State officials confirmed one pediatric flu-related death, a 15-year-old girl in southern Ohio. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Rural Sierra Leone the Red Cross Battles Ebola

In Rural Sierra Leone the Red Cross Battles Ebola

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) The Red Cross battles the Ebola virus in rural Sierra Leone and its fallout. In one treatment centre in the city of Kenema, the Red Cross also runs a kindergarten. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins