Activation of developmentally mutated human globin genes by cell fusion

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Science  18 Nov 1988:
Vol. 242, Issue 4881, pp. 1056-1058
DOI: 10.1126/science.2461587


Human fetal globin genes are not expressed in hybrid cells produced by the fusion of normal human lymphocytes with mouse erythroleukemia cells. In contrast, when lymphocytes from persons with globin gene developmental mutations (hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin) are used for these fusions, fetal globin is expressed in the hybrid cells. Thus, mutations of developmental origin can be reconstituted in vitro by fusing mutant lymphoid cells with differentiated cell lines of the proper lineage. This system can readily be used for analyses, such as globin gene methylation, that normally require large numbers of pure nucleated erythroid cells, which are difficult to obtain.