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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1983 Sep;80(17):5430-4.

Deficiency of an erythrocyte membrane protein with complement regulatory activity in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.


Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is an acquired hemolytic anemia in which the erythrocytes are abnormally sensitive to lysis by complement. A functional deficiency of membrane-associated complement regulators has been demonstrated on PNH erythrocytes. The two factor H-like proteins, the C3b receptor (CR1) and the decay-accelerating factor (DAF), were isolated from normal human erythrocytes, and specific antisera were prepared. Selective inhibition of the two proteins on normal erythrocytes by the antisera demonstrated (i) that the factor responsible for accelerated decay of erythrocyte-bound C3 convertase is DAF and (ii) that the cofactor required for inactivation of erythrocyte-bound C3b by factor I is CR1. PNH erythrocytes were deficient in both of these activities. Erythrocytes deficient in CR1, which were obtained from an apparently healthy individual, exhibited normal DAF activity but no factor I cofactor activity. These cells were not susceptible to complement-mediated lysis in acidified human serum, whereas PNH erythrocytes and Pronase-treated human erythrocytes (which lack DAF and CR1 activities) were lysed by this treatment. It is suggested that the protein primarily responsible for preventing complement activation on normal human erythrocytes is DAF. AMr 73,000 protein isolated from the normal erythrocyte membranes of one PNH patient by using anti-DAF IgG was largely absent from the abnormal erythrocytes of this individual, suggesting that PNH cells lack the DAF protein. CR1 antigen, however, was present on the abnormal PNH erythrocytes. The results suggest that the primary molecular defect underlying the clinical manifestations of PNH may be the lack of the membrane-associated DAF protein and that the abnormal cells may also exhibit impaired CR1 function.

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