Quantitative alleles of CR1: coding sequence analysis and comparison of haplotypes in two ethnic groups

J Immunol. 1999 Nov 1;163(9):4939-45.


The quantitative expression of complement receptor type 1 (CR1) on erythrocytes is regulated by two CR1 alleles that differ in having genomic HindIII fragments of either 7.4 or 6.9 kb and that determine high (H allele) or low (L allele) CR1 expression, respectively, across a 10-fold range. To investigate whether the product of the L allele may contain amino acid substitutions that make it more susceptible to proteolysis, cDNA sequence spanning the CR1 coding region was analyzed in two donors who were homozygous for the H and L alleles and differed by 7-fold in their mean numbers of CR1 per erythrocyte. Sequence differences were detected at 10 nucleotide positions, including 6 that would cause amino acid substitutions. The HindIII RFLP and 3 of the latter 6 sites were analyzed in genomic DNA of 85 Caucasians and 75 African Americans; sites encoding the other amino acid substitutions were analyzed less extensively. Two major haplotypes defined prototypic H and L alleles in both ethnic groups, suggesting that these alleles existed before the African and European populations diverged. Decreased erythrocyte CR1 expression is associated with impaired clearance of immune complexes from blood. Persistence of the L allele in all populations that have been analyzed may suggest a compensatory survival advantage, perhaps related to malaria or another infectious disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles*
  • Amino Acid Substitution / genetics
  • Amino Acid Substitution / immunology
  • Blacks / genetics*
  • Haplotypes / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Receptors, Complement 3b / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Complement 3b / genetics*
  • Receptors, Complement 3b / isolation & purification
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Whites / genetics*


  • Receptors, Complement 3b