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Erythropoietin is a haemopoietic glycoprotein growth factor derived from a single gene on chromosome seven which is expressed in cells of the renal cortex. Some 10% is produced by the liver by unknown cells; this amount is not enough for normal functioning. Its key action is to control erythropoiesis.
Normally erythropoietin is produced as a result hypoxia detected by an oxygen sensor; it then acts back on an effector receptor. There is normally a rise in levels in anaemia.
Recombinant erythropoietin is clinically useful in a range of conditions including chronic renal failure. It must be grown in mammalian cell lines so that proper glycosylation can occur.