Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Microbiology & Immunology

First Advisor

Gordon Ginder


An understanding of the human fetal to adult hemoglobin switch offers the potential to ameliorate β-type globin gene disorders such as sickle cell anemia and β-thalassemia through activation of the fetal γ-globin gene. Chromatin modifying complexes, including MBD2-NuRD and GATA-1/FOG-1/NuRD play a role in γ-globin gene silencing, and Mi2β (CHD4) is a critical component of NuRD complexes. In the studies presented in Chapter 2, we observed that the absence of MBD2 in a sickle cell mouse model leads to a decrease in the number of sickled cells observed in the peripheral blood, and significantly increases survival in these mice. Although further studies will be necessary to fully understand the effect of MBD2 knockout in sickle cell disease mice, absence of MBD2 appears to partially ameliorate the sickle cell anemia phenotype in vivo. In the studies presented in Chapter 3, we observed that knockdown of Mi2β relieves γ-globin gene silencing in β-YAC transgenic murine CID hematopoietic cells and in CD34+ progenitor derived human primary adult erythroid cells. We show that independent of MBD2-NuRD and GATA-1/FOG-1/NuRD, Mi2β binds directly to and positively regulates both the KLF1 and BCL11A genes, which encode transcription factors critical for γ-globin gene silencing during β-type globin gene switching. Remarkably, less than 50% knockdown of Mi2β is sufficient to significantly induce γ-globin gene expression without disrupting erythroid differentiation of primary human CD34+ progenitors. These results indicate that Mi2β is a potential target for therapeutic induction of fetal hemoglobin.


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