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433 Using Forced Chromatin Looping To Overcome Developmental Silencing Of Embryonic and Fetal β-Type Globin Genes In Adult Erythroid Cells

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Type: Oral
Session: 112. Thalassemia and Globin Gene Regulation: Targeted Engineering of Globin Gene Expression
Monday, December 9, 2013: 2:45 PM
343-345 (Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)

Jeremy W Rupon, MD, PhD1*, Wulan Deng, PhD1*, Hongxin Wang1*, Philip D Gregory, PhD2*, Andreas Reik, PhD2*, Ann Dean, PhD3* and Gerd A. Blobel, MD, PhD1

1Division of Hematology, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
2Sangamo BioSciences, Richmond, CA
3Laboratory of Cellular and Developmental Biology, NIDDK, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

The β-genes undergo developmental activation and silencing in part by competing for their upstream enhancer, the locus control region (LCR). In adult erythroid cells, the LCR contacts the β-globin gene promoter by forming a loop that precludes interaction with the embryonic and fetal β-type globin genes. Reversing this developmental gene expression switch in favor of embryonic/fetal genes has therapeutic implications for patients with hemoglobinopathies. Here we employed a forced chromatin looping approach to activate the silenced murine embryonic βh1-globin gene and the human fetal γ-globin gene in adult erythroid cells. We have previously shown that forced recruitment via artificial zinc finger proteins of Ldb1, a protein necessary for long-range chromatin interactions at the β-globin locus, can trigger chromatin loop formation and transcription initiation. Here, we designed a zinc finger protein targeting the βh1 promoter, fused it to the self-association domain of Ldb1 (βh1-Ldb1), and introduced it into an adult murine erythroid cell line that normally produces nearly 100% adult β-globin. βh1-Ldb1 expression activated βh1-globin transcription up to 3000-fold accounting for ~20% of total β-globin expression. βh1-Ldb1 similarly increased expression of βh1-globin in fetal liver derived primary erythroid cells. These results are striking given the degree to which murine embryonic globin genes are normally repressed.  To test whether the activity βh1-Ldb1 was due to a looped interaction of the βh1 promoter with the LCR, we introduced βh1-Ldb1 into fetal liver derived erythroblasts from mice in which the LCR had been deleted. βh1-Ldb1 was virtually inactive in the absence of the LCR, demonstrating the dependence on the LCR and, by inference, long range looping of βh1-Ldb1 function. We next extended this approach to the human β-globin locus in an effort to activate expression of the fetal γ-globin gene in adult erythroid cells. Ldb1 was fused to a previously described γ-globin promoter binding zinc finger protein, GG1, to generate GG1-Ldb1. Introduction of GG1-Ldb1 into adult primary human erythroid cells strongly activated γ-globin expression with a concomitant reduction in β-globin transcription. Strikingly, γ-globin accounted for nearly 90% of total β-type globin transcription. Furthermore, fetal hemoglobin expression was nearly pan-cellular as determined by flow cytometry. These results demonstrate the power of forced chromatin looping to reprogram developmental regulation of gene expression, and provide a novel proof of concept for activating the γ-globin gene for the benefit of patients with hemoglobinopathies.

Disclosures: Gregory: Sangamo BioSciences: Employment. Reik: Sangamo BioSciences: Employment.

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