Hemoglobin switching in mice carrying the Klf1Nan variant.

Haploinsufficiency for transcription factor KLF1 causes a variety of human erythroid phenotypes, such as the In(Lu) blood type, increased HbA2 levels, and hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin. Severe dominant congenital dyserythropoietic anemia IV (OMIM 613673) is associated with the KLF1 p.E325K variant. CDA-IV patients display ineffective erythropoiesis and hemolysis resulting in anemia, accompanied by persistent high levels of embryonic and fetal hemoglobin. The mouse Nan strain carries a variant in the orthologous residue, KLF1 p.E339D. Klf1Nan causes dominant hemolytic anemia with many similarities to CDA-IV. Here we investigated the impact of Klf1Nan on the developmental expression patterns of the endogenous beta-like and alpha-like globins, and the human beta-like globins carried on a HBB locus transgene. We observe that the switch from primitive, yolk sac-derived, erythropoiesis to definitive, fetal liver-derived, erythropoiesis is delayed in Klf1wt/Nan embryos. This is reflected in globin expression patterns measured between E12.5 and E14.5. Cultured Klf1wt/Nan E12.5 fetal liver cells display growth- and differentiation defects. These defects likely contribute to the delayed appearance of definitive erythrocytes in the circulation of Klf1wt/Nan embryos. After E14.5, expression of the embryonic/fetal globin genes is silenced rapidly. In adult Klf1wt/Nan animals, silencing of the embryonic/fetal globin genes is impeded, but only minute amounts are expressed. Thus, in contrast to human KLF1 p.E325K, mouse KLF1 p.E339D does not lead to persistent high levels of embryonic/fetal globins. Our results support the notion that KLF1 affects gene expression in a variant-specific manner, highlighting the necessity to characterize KLF1 variant-specific phenotypes of patients in detail.

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