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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Compensatory increase in levels of beta minor globin in murine beta-thalassemia is under translational control.

A 3.7-kilobase pair deletion including the entire beta major globin gene results in beta-thalassemia in a murine model of the disease (Skow, L. C., Burkhart, B. A., Johnson, F. M., Popp, R. A., Popp, D. M., Goldberg, S. Z., Anderson, W. F., Barnett, L. B., and Lewis, S. E. (1983) Cell 34, 1043-1052). There is a compensatory increase in synthesis of beta minor globin, resulting in a beta minor/alpha globin ratio of 0.75 in the homozygous thalassemic mouse, as compared to 0.2 in the normal homozygous diffuse mouse. The results presented here demonstrate that the increase in beta minor globin synthesis occurs at translation rather than at transcription. RNase T1 analysis of reticulocyte mRNA reveals that the beta/alpha ratio of globin mRNA is 0.3, significantly lower than the globin synthetic ratio of 0. 7. However, the beta/alpha ratio of mRNA on polysomes is higher than unassociated mRNA, demonstrating that beta minor mRNA is preferentially translated. Elevated synthesis of beta minor globin is maintained during in vitro translation in thalassemic reticulocyte lysate. In this system, partial inhibition of translational elongation by cycloheximide decreases the beta minor/alpha globin synthetic ratio, whereas partial inhibition of initiation by hemin deficiency increases the beta minor/alpha synthetic ratio. This suggests that beta minor mRNA competes with alpha-mRNA for a limiting mRNA binding factor at initiation of translation.[1]


  1. Compensatory increase in levels of beta minor globin in murine beta-thalassemia is under translational control. Curcio, M.J., Kantoff, P., Schafer, M.P., Anderson, W.F., Safer, B. J. Biol. Chem. (1986) [Pubmed]
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