Analysis of the erythropoietin receptor gene in patients with myeloproliferative and myelodysplastic syndromes

Moshe Mittelman*, Joseph Gardyn, Miri Carmel, Hanna Malovani, Yigal Barak, Uri Nir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The human erythropoietin receptor (EpoR) gene has been cloned and characterized. Very few EpoR genetic abnormalities have been reported so far. Polycythemia vera (PV) is characterized by low/normal serum erythropoietin (Epo) levels with proposed Epo hypersensitivity. Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are characterized by refractory anemia with variable serum Epo levels. Several reports have suggested EpoR abnormalities in both types of stem cell disorders. We analyzed DNA obtained from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of seven healthy controls, 20 patients with myeloproliferative disorders (MPD, 11 patients with PV, five agnogenic myeloid metaplasia with myelofibrosis, four essential thrombocytosis) and eight patients with refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (RARS), an MDS variant. The DNA was digested with four restriction enzymes (BamHI, Bgl II, Sacl and HindIII), followed by Southern blot, using a 32P radiolabeled probe, containing 1.5 kb of the human EpoR cDNA. All 20 MPD patients and seven out of the eight MDS patients demonstrated a restriction pattern which was identical to the seven normal controls, as well as to the erythroid cell line K562, and also consistent with the expected restriction map, for all four enzymes tested. One RARS patient had a normal pattern with three enzymes but a different one with HindIII. The HindIII 12 kb large band was replaced by a faint 12 kb band and a new (about 9 kb) band appeared. The EpoR restriction map and the normal pattern obtained with the other three enzymes suggest that this patient has a 3 kb upstream deletion in one allelic EpoR gene. The same molecular pattern was detected in the patient's sister, who suffers from anemia with mild bone marrow (BM) dyserythropoiesis and plasmacytosis. Northern blot analysis showed that the patient's BM RNA carried normal EpoR message. This familial pattern may represent polymorphism. However, the patient's very high serum Epo level, her resistance to treatment with recombinant Epo, and the abnormally low growth rate of in vitro erythroid cultures, suggesting poor response to Epo in this MDS patient as well as the hematological abnormalities in her sister, support the speculation that the different EpoR gene might serve as a genetic predisposing marker and potentially could be involved (probably via post-transcriptional mechanisms and by an interaction with other factors or cytokines) in the pathogenesis. Our data suggest that the EpoR is intact in MPD and in most patients with RARS. One RARS patient had a familial different genetic structure, which could represent polymorphism. However, we can speculate also that it might be involved in the pathogenesis of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-466
Number of pages8
JournalLeukemia Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1996


  • Erythropoietin
  • Erythropoietin receptor gene


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