An analysis of hemoglobin synthesis in erythropoietic cells

George P. Casale, Edward A. Khairallah, Joseph A. Grasso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Newts (Triturus cristatus) rendered anemic by phenylhydrazine exhibit a delayed erythropoietic response in the circulating blood, consisting of successive waves which develop as homogeneous erythroid populations corresponding to the different developmental stages. The initial wave was the object of quantitative study of hemoglobin synthesis and accumulation in vivo, using [3H]leucine incorporation into hemoglobin as a method. Correlative studies showed that: (1) Incorporation of [3H]leucine into hemoglobin increased by an identical proportion over time in all developmental stages and, when corrected for declining specific activity of intracellular leucine, was linear throughout the 5-hr labeling period in vivo; (2) the specific radioactivities of intracellular soluble leucine (and of tRNALeu) were virtually identical in early and late stages; and (3) there was no turnover of hemoglobin during erythropoiesis. The rate of hemoglobin synthesis per cell was maximal in early erythroid cells and decreased significantly in subsequent stages. An increasing proportion of protein synthesis in erythroid cells was committed to hemoglobin production during development, an increase which resulted mainly from a proportionately greater decline in production and net accumulation of nonglobin proteins rather than enhanced synthesis of hemoglobin. Despite decreasing cellular levels of hemoglobin synthesis, total hemoglobin-synthesizing capacity, and total hemoglobin content in the erythron (total erythroid cell population) increased during development as a result of mitotic expansion of the erythroid cell population. Pulse-chase experiments conducted either in vivo or in vitro suggested the presence of a pool of globin monomers or dimers whose relative size was insignificant in early erythroid cells but gradually enlarged in subsequent developmental stages. The declining rates of hemoglobin synthesis per cell may reflect decreasing cellular levels of globin mRNA but do not appear to result from decreasing ribosomal availability or altered polyribosomal function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-119
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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