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Transfus Clin Biol. 1996;3(6):497-503.

Tentative model for the mapping of D epitopes on the RhD polypeptide.

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INSERM U76, Institut National de Transfusion Sanguine, Paris, France.


The partial D phenotypes correspond to D-positive individuals that may develop anti-D antibodies following immunization by transfusion or pregnancy, since they lack some of the D epitopes that compose the D antigen. When these red cells are tested with a panel of human monoclonal anti-D, different patterns of reactivity are observed and at least nine distinct epitopes termed epD1 to epD9 can be identified. Molecular analysis of partial D variants have shown that the loss of some D epitopes is associated either with intergenic recombination events between the D and CE genes generating hybrid gene structures D-CE-D or CE-D-CE, or with point mutations of the D gene. Based on these findings, a tentative model that correlates critical amino acid positions and D epitope expression on the D protein was proposed. Although recent studies suggest that the D antigen may be composed of as many as 30 epitopes, the relatively simple model presented here may be useful to serologists as a preliminary approach to understanding the basis of D antigenic variation in terms of structure-activity relationship.

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