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Background

The KEL gene is highly polymorphic. It presents two major alleles, KEL1(K) and KEL2(k), but a variety of mutations give rise to weakened (Kmod phenotype) or lack (K0 phenotype) of Kell antigen expression. Recently, the use of advanced DNA-based techniques has greatly increased our understanding of the Kell blood group system.

Study Design and Methods

Three blood samples that had shown discordant results between the serologic and molecular typing for k were investigated by DNA sequencing. Two of these samples were also subjected to studies of adsorption and elution.

Results

After sequencing the whole KEL gene, we found three new missense mutations: c.455A>G (p.Tyr152Cys) at Exon 5, c.2111A>C (p.Pro704His) at Exon 19, and c.1726G>C (p.Gly576Arg) at Exon 16. So far, no known clinical implications are associated with these mutations. Further investigation by adsorption and elution methods has defined that c.455A>G and c.1726G>C resulted in K0 phenotype, while c.2111A>C encoded a Kmod phenotype.

Conclusion

Molecular investigation is an important complement to routine serologic analyses of Kell antigens. Discrepancies between genotype and phenotype may reveal the presence of Kmod or K0 phenotypes. Our description of three new KEL alleles suggests a role for a wider diagnostic approach to typing of the Kell system.