Erythropoiesis in normal and mutant chick embryos

Robert W. Keane, Ursula K. Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Hemoglobin DDavis (Hb DD), an autosomal codominant in chickens, the αD-globin chain of Hb M of primitive cells and Hb D of definitive erythrocytes. Erythropoiesis and Hb synthesis was investigated in normal, heterozygous, and homozygous Hb DD mutant embryos (stages 15-44) and adults. The time of appearance, morphology, relationships to developmental changes, and number of primitive and definitive cells were determined. Primitive hemoglobins between stages 17 and 44 showed four components, P1, P2, E, and M (or MD), on high-resolution isoelectric focusing gels. Comparison of P1 P2 ratios in the four phenotypes indicated that homozygous Hb DD embryos had an increased proportion of Hb P2 relative to Hb P1 between stages 17 and 35. This difference coincided with an increase in the number of large primitive cells. In all phenotypes the proportions of primitive hemoglobins decreased after stage 25 and they were not detected after stage 40. Basophilic definitive erythroblasts were present in cell suspensions from all phenotypes between stages 24 and 25. Hb A, the major Hb and Hb D, the minor Hb, of definitive cells of embryos and adults were detected by isoelectric focusing of lysates by stage 29. Definitive cells from late embryos of all phenotypes had higher proportions of Hb D (or Hb DD) than did red cells from corresponding adult birds. Heterozygous Hb DD embroys and adults had both Hb D and Hb DD. Hb DD comprises about 30% of the total minor Hb rather than 50% expected for heterozygosity at a single locus. In this respect heterozygous Hb DD chick embryos and adult birds are similar to certain heterozygous α-chain variants in humans. A minor Hb, H, found in lysates of later embryos disappears in lysates of normal chicks 65 days after hatching, but was present in the circulation of homozygous Hb DD chicks until at least 195 days after hatching. Additionally, several minor Hb components which may be asymmetrical hybrids or derived precursors of Hb A and Hb D (or Hb DD) were observed. This study provides the precise developmental stages when the switchover of erythroid cell populations and hemoglobins in the chick embryo occurs. This is the first investigation of an α-globin chain mutant which is synthesized during all stages of red cell development and may be a useful animal model for the study of hemoglobinopathies in vertebrates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-453
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 15 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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