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Background

HNA-3a–specific antibodies can cause severe, sometimes fatal, transfusion-related acute lung injury when present in transfused blood. The HNA3-a/b antigens are determined by an R154Q polymorphism in the first of five extracellular (EC) loops of the 10-membrane-spanning choline transporter-like protein 2 (CTL2) expressed on neutrophils, lymphocytes, and other tissues. Approximately 50% of HNA-3a antibodies (Type 1) can be detected using CTL2 Loop 1 peptides containing R154; the remaining 50% (Type 2) fail to recognize this target. Understanding the basis for this difference could guide efforts to develop practical assays to screen blood donors for HNA-3 antibodies.

Study Design and Methods

Reactions of HNA-3a antibodies against recombinant versions of human, mouse, and human/mouse (chimeric) CTL2 were characterized using flow cytometry and various solid-phase assays.

Results

The findings show that, for binding to CTL2, Type 2 HNA-3a antibodies require nonpolymorphic amino acid residues in the third, and possibly the second, EC loops of CTL2 to be in a configuration comparable to that found naturally in the cell membrane. In contrast, Type 1 antibodies require only peptides from the first EC loop that contain R154 for recognition.

Conclusion

Although Type 1 HNA-3a antibodies can readily be detected in solid-phase assays that use a CTL2 peptide containing R154 as a target, development of a practical test to screen blood donors for Type 2 antibodies will pose a serious technical challenge because of the complex nature of the epitope(s) recognized by this antibody subgroup.