Background: VS and V are common red cell antigens in persons of African origin. The molecular background of these Rh system antigens is poorly understood.
Study design and methods: Red cells from 100 black South Africans and 43 black persons from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, were typed serologically for various Rh system antigens. Allele-specific polymerase chain reaction and sequencing of polymerase chain reaction products were used to analyze C733G (Leu245Val) and G1006T (Gly336Cys) polymorphisms in exons 5 and 7 of RHCE and the presence of a D-CE hybrid exon 3.
Results: The respective frequencies of all VS+ and of VS+ V-(r's) phenotypes were 43 percent and 9 percent in the South Africans and 49 percent and 12 percent in the Dutch donors. All VS+ donors had G733 (Val245), but six with G733 were VS- (4 V+w, 2 V-). The four VS- V+w donors with G733 appeared to have a CE-D hybrid exon 5. T1006 (Cys336) was present in 12 percent and 16 percent of donors from the two populations. With only a few exceptions, T1006, a D-CE hybrid exon 3, and a C410T (Ala137Val) substitution were associated with a VS+ V-phenotype ((C)ces or r's haplotype). Two VS+ V-individuals, with the probable genotype, (C)ces/(C)ces), were homozygous for G733 and for T1006.
Conclusions: It is likely that anti-VS and anti-V recognize the conformational changes created by Val245, but that anti-V is sensitive to additional conformational changes created by Cys336.