BACKGROUND: Several studies showed in people of African descent the existence of a genetic linkage between RHD alleles encoding a variant D antigen and a given altered RHCE*ce allele. RHCE*ceBI is a rare allele encountered in people of African descent, that encodes a Hr– hrS– Rhce protein. Our study shows that RHCE*ceBI appears to be genetically linked to two very similar variant RHD alleles, RHD*DOL1 and RHD*DOL2, and demonstrates for the first time that DOL-2 is a partial D antigen.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: After finding out an individual with both RHCE*ceBI and RHD*DOL presumed to be in cis, we hypothesized a genetic linkage between those two genes. All individuals (n = 7) known to carry RHCE*ceBI in our laboratory, including the index case, were fully investigated at the serologic and molecular level.
RESULTS: One individual with alloanti-D, being homozygous for RHCE*ceBI and RHD*DOL2, allowed us to confirm the genetic linkage between those two genes, as well as the partial D status of DOL-2. In the six RHCE*ceBI remaining individuals, three were found with RHD*DOL2 and 3 with RHD*DOL1, likely in cis. Three of them made an alloanti-D; one was DOL-1 and two were DOL-2.
CONCLUSION: The rare RHCE*ceBI allele appears to be in cis either with RHD*DOL1 or with RHD*DOL2 in people of African descent. DOL-1 and DOL-2 must be considered as partial D antigens. We recommend a systematic search for RHD*DOL1 and RHD*DOL2 in people found to carry RHCE*ceBI and vice versa, especially in patients with sickle cell disease.