Weak D type 1.1 exemplifies another complexity in weak D genotyping

Andrea Doescher, Willy A Flegel, Eduard K Petershofen, Ursula Bauerfeind, Franz F Wagner
Transfusion 2005, 45 (10): 1568-73

BACKGROUND: Weak D expression is caused by a large number of RHD alleles. Increasingly recommendations for D+ or D- transfusions are based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) identification of certain RHD alleles. Possible sources of error are rare D variants that are inadvertently carrying known polymorphisms of frequent weak D types.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Weak D donors were checked by direct column agglutination. In donors with unusually weak expression of D, the molecular weak D type was determined by weak D PCR and nucleotide sequencing. The serologic profile of a weak D type 1 variant was determined by agglutination serology and flow cytometry.

RESULTS: Several donors in whom direct agglutination barely revealed any D expression were shown to carry the new RHD(L18V,V270G) allele dubbed weak D type 1.1. Initially, such donors had been mistyped as weak D type 1 by PCR. In a systematic study, weak D type 1.1 was shown to be present in 7 of 23 donors with very weak D expression who all lived in a restricted area of Northern Germany. Although weak D type 1.1 was typed D- or barely D+ by direct agglutination, it was easily detected by antiglobulin technique and was shown to carry about 600 antigens D per red blood cell.

CONCLUSION: The observation of weak D type 1.1 with its distinct phenotype pinpointed to two general problems of current RHD genotyping strategies: Mistyping of alleles with additional mutations and striking geographic variation of the allele distributions.

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