Genetic disruption of KCC cotransporters in a mouse model of thalassemia intermedia

Blood Cells Mol Dis. 2020 Mar;81:102389. doi: 10.1016/j.bcmd.2019.102389. Epub 2019 Nov 25.


β-thalassemia (β-Thal) is caused by defective β-globin production leading to globin chain imbalance, aggregation of free alpha chain in developing erythroblasts, reticulocytes, and mature circulating red blood cells. The hypochromic thalassemic red cells exhibit increased cell dehydration in association with elevated K+ leak and increased K-Cl cotransport activity, each of which has been linked to globin chain imbalance and related oxidative stress. We therefore tested the effect of genetic inactivation of K-Cl cotransporters KCC1 and KCC3 in a mouse model of β-thalassemia intermedia. In the absence of these transporters, the anemia of β-Thal mice was ameliorated, in association with increased MCV and reductions in CHCM and hyperdense cells, as well as in spleen size. The resting K+ content of β-Thal red cells was greatly increased, and Thal-associated splenomegaly slightly decreased. Lack of KCC1 and KCC3 activity in Thal red cells reduced red cell density and improved β-Thal-associated osmotic fragility. We conclude that genetic inactivation of K-Cl cotransport can reverse red cell dehydration and partially attenuate the hematologic phenotype in a mouse model of β-thalassemia.

Keywords: K(+) efflux; Osmotic fragility; Red cell density; Spleen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Dehydration
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Erythrocytes / chemistry
  • Erythrocytes / pathology
  • Mice
  • Osmotic Fragility
  • Phenotype
  • Splenomegaly
  • Symporters / genetics*
  • Symporters / metabolism
  • beta-Thalassemia / genetics*
  • beta-Thalassemia / pathology


  • Slc12a6 protein, mouse
  • Symporters
  • potassium-chloride symporters