Evolution of hemoglobin loci and their regulatory elements

Sjaak Philipsen, Ross C. Hardison

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Across the expanse of vertebrate evolution, each species produces multiple forms of hemoglobin in erythroid cells at appropriate times and in the proper amounts. The multiple hemoglobins are encoded in two globin gene clusters in almost all species. One globin gene cluster, linked to the gene NPRL3, is preserved in all vertebrates, including a gene cluster encoding the highly divergent globins from jawless vertebrates. This preservation of synteny may reflect the presence of a powerful enhancer of globin gene expression in the NPRL3 gene. Despite substantial divergence in noncoding DNA sequences among mammals, several epigenetic features of the globin gene regulatory regions are preserved across vertebrates. The preserved features include multiple DNase hypersensitive sites, at least one of which is an enhancer, and binding by key lineage-restricted transcription factors such as GATA1 and TAL1, which in turn recruit coactivators such as P300 that catalyze acetylation of histones. The maps of epigenetic features are strongly correlated with activity in gene regulation, and resources for accessing and visualizing such maps are readily available to the community of researchers and students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-12
Number of pages11
JournalBlood Cells, Molecules, and Diseases
StatePublished - May 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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