Correction of Sickle Cell Disease in Adult Mice by Interference with Fetal Hemoglobin Silencing
Persistence of human fetal hemoglobin (HbF, α2γ2) in adults lessens the severity of sickle cell disease (SCD) and the β-thalassemias. Here, we show that the repressor BCL11A is required in vivo for silencing of γ-globin expression in adult animals, yet dispensable for red cell production. BCL11A serves as a barrier to HbF reactivation by known HbF inducing agents. In a proof-of-principle test of BCL11A as a potential therapeutic target, we demonstrate that inactivation of BCL11A in SCD transgenic mice corrects the hematologic and pathologic defects associated with SCD through high-level pancellular HbF induction. Thus, interference with HbF silencing by manipulation of a single target protein is sufficient to reverse SCD.