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Vox Sang. 2010 Apr;98(3 Pt 1):e263-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1423-0410.2009.01277.x. Epub 2009 Nov 23.

The low prevalence Rh antigen Be(a) (Rh36) is associated with RHCE*ce 662C>G in exon 5, which is predicted to encode Rhce 221Arg.

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New York Blood Center, 310 East 67th Street, New York, NY 10065, USA.



The low prevalence antigen, Be(a), is produced by a complex that also produces weak c, e and f (ce). We report here the molecular basis associated with Be(a) antigen expression.


Peripheral blood samples from four Be(a+) probands were tested. Haemagglutination, gDNA extraction, PCR-based assays, reticulocyte RNA isolation, Rh-cDNA analyses, and sequencing were performed by standard procedures.


RBCs from Probands 1 and 3 were D-C-E-c+e+, and from Probands 2 and 4 were D+C+E-c+(W)e+. In proband 1, cDNA sequencing of RHCE revealed heterozygosity of nucleotide (nt) 662C/G in exon 5 of RHCE*ce. No other nucleotide changes were observed. As the 662C>G nucleotide change ablates a MscI restriction enzyme cleavage site, PCR-RFLP analysis was performed and the RHCE*ce nt 662C/G heterozygosity was detected on gDNA from the four probands and two children from both Proband 3 and Proband 4.


The low prevalence Rh antigen, Be(a), is associated with a single nucleotide change in exon 5 of RHCE*ce; that of 662C>G and this change is predicted to alter proline at amino acid position 221 of Rhce to arginine. The fundamental differences in the properties of these two amino acids may impose a steric and/or charge-related effect on the protein, and thereby provide an explanation for the weakened expression of c, e and f (ce) antigens in the Be(a) phenotype.

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