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A novel mutation in the erythroid transcription factor KLF1 is likely responsible for ameliorating β-thalassemia major.

We describe the identification of a novel missense mutation in the second zinc finger of KLF1 in two siblings who, based on their genotype, are predicted to suffer from beta thalassemia major but are, in fact, transfusion-free and in good health. These individuals, as well as two additional members of the same family also carrying this KLF1 mutation, exhibit high levels of fetal hemoglobin (HbF). KLF1 is an erythroid transcription factor, which plays a critical role in the regulation of the developmental switch between fetal and adult hemoglobin by regulating the expression of a multitude of genes including that of BCL11A. The mutation appears to be the main candidate responsible for the beta thalassemia-ameliorating effect since this segregates with the observed phenotype and also exogenous expression of the KLF1 mutant protein in human erythroid progenitor cells resulted in the induction of γ-globin, without, however, affecting BCL11A levels. This report adds to the weight of evidence that heterozygous KLF1 mutations can ameliorate the severity of the β-thalassemia major phenotype. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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