Induction of hemoglobin accumulation in human K562 cells by hemin is reversible

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Science  24 Apr 1981:
Vol. 212, Issue 4493, pp. 459-461
DOI: 10.1126/science.6163216

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Twenty micromolar hemin causes no change in the rate of division of K562 cells but results in accumulation of 11 to 14 picograms of embryonic and fetal hemoglobins per cell. This effect is reversible, and hemoglobin induction in response to hemin, and loss of hemoglobin upon removal of hemin, can be cyclically repeated. The cells can be indefinitely subcultured in the presence of the inducer. Thus, the control of hemoglobin levels in K562 cells does not depend on irreversible differentiation.