Generation and characterisation of Rhd and Rhag null mice


  • *

    Rha and Rhag are MGI nomenclature.

Dr Dominique Goossens, Institut National de la Transfusion Sanguine, 6 rue Alexandre Cabanel, 75015 Paris, France.


Mouse Rhd* and Rhag* genes were targeted using insertional vectors; the resulting knockout mice, and double-knockout descendants, were analysed. Rhag glycoprotein deficiency entailed defective assembly of the erythroid Rh complex with complete loss of Rh and intercellular adhesion molecule 4 (ICAM-4), but not CD47, expression. Absence of the Rh protein induced a loss of ICAM-4, and only a moderate reduction of Rhag expression. Double knockout phenotype was similar to that of Rhag targeted mice. Rhd and Rhag deficient mice exhibited neither the equivalent of human Rhnull haemolytic anaemia nor any clinical or cellular abnormalities. Rhd−/− and Rhag−/− erythrocytes showed decreased basal adhesion to an endothelial cell line resulting from defective ICAM-4 membrane expression. There was no difference in recovery from phenylhydrazine-induced haematopoietic stress for double knockout mice as compared to controls, suggesting that ICAM-4 might be dispensable during stress erythropoiesis. Ammonia and methylammonia transport in erythrocytes was severely impaired in Rhag−/− but only slightly in Rhd−/− animals that significantly expressed Rhag, supporting the view that RhAG and Rhag, but not Rh, may act as ammonium transporters in human and mouse erythrocytes. These knockout mice should prove useful for further dissecting the physiological roles of Rh and Rhag proteins in the red cell membrane.