We have surveyed 22 kb of DNA from the region surrounding the human fetal (gamma) globin genes and have identified one fragment that meets all of the criteria for a non-tissue specific enhancer element. The enhancer-containing fragment starts approximately 400 bp 3' to the polyadenylation signal of the A gamma gene and is less than 750 bp in length. Addition of this fragment to plasmids containing a 'gamma-CAT' hybrid gene [consisting of the gamma globin gene promoter fused to the chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (CAT) gene] increases CAT expression 6-23-fold in K562 erythroleukemia cells, depending upon the method of transfection. The increase in expression is essentially independent of the orientation or position of the fragment with respect to the gamma-CAT hybrid gene. The 3' gamma enhancer activates heterologous promoters in erythroleukemia cells, and is also active in non-erythroid cell lines. The enhancer acts by increasing the number of transcripts initiated from the normal gamma globin gene transcription initiation site. The enhancer region contains two DNase I hypersensitive sites in erythroleukemia cells but none in nonerythroid human leukemia cell lines. The 3' gamma globin gene enhancer contains a unique element that is similar to sequences found in an enhancer 3' to the chicken beta globin gene, suggesting that this conserved element may have a role in enhancer function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2997-3004
Number of pages8
JournalThe EMBO journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1987


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