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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Oct 8;1455(2-3):269-86.

Biochemical background of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.

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  • 1Department of Physiological Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science, Showa University, Tokyo, Japan.


Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is an acquired disorder characterized by paroxysms of intravascular hemolysis. A considerable part of erythrocytes in patient blood is susceptible to autologous complement activation because of the deficiency of CD59, which is a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored protein and inhibits the formation of the membrane attack complex (MAC) of complement. The deficiency of CD59 is derived from the inability of GPI-anchor synthesis. Although more than 10 proteins are involved in the GPI-anchor synthesis, the mutation of only one protein, PIG-A, causes the defect in about 200 patients with PNH who have been analyzed. The reason why only PIG-A causes the deficiency of GPI anchor is due to the location of its gene on X chromosome. The clonal stem cell mutated with PIG-A gene in the bone marrow loses the capability of the synthesis of GPI-anchor. The mutation of PIG-A gene alone, however, seems to be insufficient to account for the survival of the PIG-A-deficient cells in the bone marrow. Thus, a fraction of the mutant stem cells probably gain a survival advantage by some additional changes, either additional mutations or changes in immunological circumstances. The release of the surviving cells into blood stream results in a clinical syndrome with PNH.

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