, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 593-599

Expression of Lewis histo-blood group glycolipids in the plasma of individuals of Le(a+b+) and partial secretor phenotypes

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Abstract

Red cell Lewis antigens are carried by glycosphingolipids passively absorbed from plasma. Plasma was collected from a spectrum of individuals with normal and unusual Lewis/secretor phenotypes in order to investigate the glycolipid basis for the unusual phenotypes. Samples were obtained from: a Le(a+b−) ABH nonsecretor who secreted Lewis substances; a Le(a+b−) partial secretor; Le(a+b+) partial secretors; Le(a+b+) secretors; and a full range of normal Lewis/secretor phenotypes as controls. The Le(a+b+) samples represented Polynesian, Asian and Réunion Island ethnic backgrounds. Nonacid glycolipids were prepared, separated by thin-layer chromatography, and then immunostained with potent monoclonal antibodies of known specificity. Despite different serological profiles of the Le(a+b−) and Le(a+b+) Polynesian samples, their plasma glycolipid expressions were very similar, with both Lea and Leb co-expressed. The copresence of Lea and Leb in Le(a+b+) samples is in marked contrast to Caucasians with normal Lewis phenotypes, who have predominantly either Lea or Leb. These results suggest that there is a range of the secretor transferases in different individuals, possibly due to different penetrance or to several weak variants. We also show that Lewis epitopes on longer and/or more complex core chains appear to be predominant in the Polynesian Le(a+b+) samples. The formation of these extended glycolipids is compatible with the concept that in the presence of reduced secretor fucosyltransferase activity, increased elongation of the precursor chain occurs, which supports the postulate that fucosylation of the precursor prevents or at least markedly reduces chain elongation.