BACKGROUND: The RH blood group system has many RHCE variant alleles that have arisen through gene conversion or nucleotide changes. Two probands, with red blood cells (RBCs) that were D+C+E−c+we+ were sent to our laboratories to resolve the weak c expression.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Hemagglutination tests were performed by automated and manual procedures. Genomic DNA analysis was performed by sequencing of Exons 1 to 10 of RHCE and RHD.
RESULTS: The probands' RBCs did not react with standard monoclonal anti-E reagents from Bio-Rad, Diagast, DiaMed, Immucor, Ortho, and Quotient. The RBCs reacted variably with anti-c reagents from Diagast, DiaMed, Immucor, or Ortho and did not react with the Quotient anti-c reagent. Surprisingly, sequencing results of RHCE showed the presence of C/G at Position 676 (E/e polymorphism) and the association of the E polymorphism with a 734T>C transition in Exon 5 of the RHCE, encoding a Leu245Pro amino acid substitution in the mature RhcE polypeptide. Replacement of leucine 245 by proline in the eighth transmembrane domain of the RhcE protein may have a steric effect on the protein such that most anti-E reagents do not bind and the interaction between anti-c and c antigen is also affected.
CONCLUSION: We report a novel RHCE*cE allele, RHCE*cE734C, which was assigned the provisional ISBT allele name RHCE*cE.14 or RHCE*03.14. It was found in two probands whose RBCs had weakened c expression and typed E− with conventional anti-E reagents. These data, once again, highlight the fact that the genotype does not always reflect the phenotype.