In contrast to normal human erythroid tissues where the α21-globin mRNA ratio is about 72:28, in human erythroleukemia K562 cells this ratio was found to be quite low, i.e. about 8:92. The ratio was moderately increased by hemin induction and approached almost normal levels after chromosomal transfer from K562 to the mouse erythroleukemia (MEL) cells. We suggest that operationally positive regulatory factors may exist in erythroleukemia cells, modifying the relative α1 and α2-globin gene expression by events following induction and by the adult MEL environment. These factors may act by altering the relative rate of α1 and α2-globin mRNA synthesis.

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