The beta-globin locus control region (LCR) is a large DNA element that is required for high-level expression of beta-like globin genes from the endogenous mouse locus or in transgenic mice carrying the human beta-globin locus. The LCR encompasses 6 DNaseI hypersensitive sites (HSs) that bind transcription factors. These HSs each contain a core of a few hundred base pairs (bp) that has most of the functional activity and exhibits high interspecies sequence homology. Adjoining the cores are 500- to 1000-bp "flanks" with weaker functional activity and lower interspecies homology. Studies of human beta-globin transgenes and of the endogenous murine locus show that deletion of an entire HS (core plus flanks) moderately suppresses expression. However, human transgenes in which only individual HS core regions were deleted showed drastic loss of expression accompanied by changes in chromatin structure. To address these disparate results, we have deleted the core region of 5'HS2 from the endogenous murine beta-LCR. The phenotype was similar to that of the larger 5'HS2 deletion, with no apparent disruption of chromatin structure. These results demonstrate that the greater severity of HS core deletions in comparison to full HS deletions is not a general property of the beta-LCR.
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