CD14+ monocytes repress gamma globin expression at early stages of erythropoiesis

Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 15;11(1):1507. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-81060-7.


In β-hemoglobinopathies, reactivation of gamma- at the expense of beta-globin is a prominent therapeutic option. Expression of the globin genes is not strictly intrinsically regulated during erythropoiesis, supported by the observation that fetal erythroid cells switch to adult hemoglobin expression when injected in mice. We show cultured erythroblasts are a mix of HbA restrictive and HbA/HbF expressing cells and that the proportion of cells in the latter population depends on the starting material. Cultures started from CD34+ cells contain more HbA/HbF expressing cells compared to erythroblasts cultured from total peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Depletion of CD14+ cells from PBMC resulted in higher HbF/HbA percentages. Conversely, CD34+ co-culture with CD14+ cells reduced the HbF/HbA population through cell-cell proximity, indicating that CD14+ actively repressed HbF expression in adult erythroid cultures. RNA-sequencing showed that HbA and HbA/HbF populations contain a limited number of differentially expressed genes, aside from HBG1/2. Co-culture of CD14+ cells with sorted uncommitted hematopoietic progenitors and CD34-CD36+ erythroblasts showed that hematopoietic progenitors prior to the hemoglobinized erythroid stages are more readily influenced by CD14+ cells to downregulate expression of HBG1/2, suggesting temporal regulation of these genes. This possibly provides a novel therapeutic avenue to develop β-hemoglobinopathies treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Erythroblasts / cytology
  • Erythroid Precursor Cells / metabolism
  • Erythropoiesis / genetics*
  • Erythropoiesis / physiology
  • Gene Expression / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / genetics
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / immunology
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / physiology*
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • beta-Globins / metabolism
  • gamma-Globins / genetics*
  • gamma-Globins / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD34
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • Transcription Factors
  • beta-Globins
  • gamma-Globins