A new blood group antigen is defined by anti-CD59, detected in a CD59-deficient patient

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CD59 is a cell surface glycoprotein of approximately 20 kDa limiting the lytic activity of the terminal complement complex C5b-9. Although CD59 is known as a red blood cell (RBC) antigen defined by monoclonal antibodies, it so far has not been identified as a blood group antigen, since the description of a human alloantibody was missing. In this study we show the presence of an anti-CD59 in a patient affected by a homozygous CD59 deficiency.


RBC CD59 and CD55 were determined by flow cytometry or by the column agglutination technique using monoclonal antisera. Commercially available His-tagged recombinant soluble CD59 protein was used to inhibit anti-CD59.


Seven cases of an isolated CD59 deficiency due to three distinct null alleles of the CD59 gene have been published so far. Recently we described the CD59-null allele c.146delA in a young child of heterozygous parents. Her plasma contained an alloantibody directed against the high-prevalence RBC antigen CD59. The antibody specificity was identified using soluble recombinant human CD59 protein, which blocked the reactivity of the patient's antibody and of monoclonal anti-CD59 but not of monoclonal anti-CD55. In addition, RBC alloantibodies such as anti-K, anti-C, anti-c, or anti-Fya remained unaffected. Therefore, inhibition by recombinant CD59 is a useful diagnostic tool to detect alloantibodies in the presence of anti-CD59.


This is the first demonstration of a human anti-CD59 alloantibody, which defines CD59 as an RBC blood group antigen. CD59 represents a candidate for a new blood group system.

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