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Transfusion. 2005 Aug;45(8):1314-8.

Molecular basis of the JAHK (RH53) antigen.

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Red Cross Blood Service of Baden-Württemberg-Hessen, Institute Baden-Baden, Germany.

Erratum in

  • Transfusion. 2005 Oct;45(10):1690.



The JAHK antigen was first described in 1995 as a low-frequency red blood cell antigen. Family studies confirmed the association of the antigen with the rare r(G) phenotype of the Rh blood group system, which is associated with weak expression of C and e, but normal G expression. JAHK was allocated the Rh number RH53. The serologic findings indicated the location of the antigen on the RhCE protein, although the molecular basis for JAHK has not been known.


The RHCE gene of eight persons from three unrelated families was analyzed by exon amplification and direct sequencing. Four of the samples were JAHK+ the remaining four were JAHK-. In one JAHK+ sample, the entire RHCE gene was sequenced. The remaining samples were sequenced for exons 1 to 3. A polymerase chain reaction procedure with sequence specific primers was developed for the specific detection of the JAHK allele.


Analysis of the entire RHCE gene of one JAHK+ sample showed the expected CcEe-specific nucleotide sequences and revealed an additional nucleotide change (365C>T) in exon 3. This change represented a missense mutation, which led to an amino acid substitution from serine to leucine at position 122 of the RhCE protein. Three JAHK+ samples from two other unrelated families showed the 365C>T mutation and confirmed the association of the Ser122Leu substitution with the JAHK+ phenotype.


The molecular basis of the JAHK antigen (RH53) is defined by a 365C>T mutation in exon 3 of the RHCE gene leading to the amino acid substitution Ser122Leu. Because the position 122 is predicted to be located in the transmembrane region adjacent to the second loop, the substitution of the neutral serine by the hydrophobic leucine seems to be the cause of the JAHK antigen by a conformational change of the RhCE protein. This structural change may also cause the weakened expression of the C and e antigens observed in JAHK+ individuals. Based on our results it is concluded that the JAHK-specific mutation is associated with a dCe haplotype.

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