In situ hybridization reveals co-expression of embryonic and adult alpha globin genes in the earliest murine erythrocyte progenitors

A Leder, A Kuo, M M Shen, P Leder
1992 Development  
Murine erythropoiesis begins with the formation of primitive red blood cells in the blood islands of the embryonic yolk sac on day 7.5 of gestation. By analogy to human erythropoiesis, it has been thought that there is a gradual switch from the exclusive expression of the embryonic alpha-like globin (zeta) to the mature adult form (alpha) in these early mouse cells. We have used in situ hybridization to assess expression of these two globin genes during embryonic development. In contrast to
more » ... might have been expected, we find that there is simultaneous expression of both zeta and alpha genes from the very onset of erythropoiesis in the yolk sac. At no time could we detect expression of embryonic zeta globin mRNA without concomitant expression of adult alpha globin mRNA. Indeed, adult alpha transcripts exceed those of embryonic zeta in the earliest red cell precursors. Moreover, the pattern of hybridization reveals co-expression of both genes within the same cells. Even in the fetal liver, which supersedes the yolk sac as the major site of murine fetal erythropoiesis, there is a brief co-expression of zeta and alpha genes followed by the exclusive expression of the adult alpha genes. These data indicate an important difference in hematopoietic ontogeny between mouse and that of human, where zeta expression precedes that of alpha. In addition to resolving the embryonic expression of these globin genes, our results suggest that the embryonic alpha-like globin gene zeta may be physiologically redundant, even during the earliest stages of embryonic development.
pmid:1295728 fatcat:gtbc3teyorcdzot7nlc4q5kka4