Key Points

  • HPA allele–specific HLA class I–negative MKs can be differentiated from CRISPR-edited human iPSCs.

  • Such cells can be stored frozen and thawed to use in whole-cell flow cytometric assays to detect anti-HPA-3a, -3b, and -9b alloantibodies.

Abstract

Human platelet membrane glycoprotein polymorphisms can be immunogenic in man and are frequently the cause of clinically important immune reactions responsible for disorders such as neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia. Platelets from individuals carrying rare polymorphisms are often difficult to obtain, making diagnostic testing and transfusion of matched platelets challenging. In addition, class I HLA antibodies frequently present in maternal sera interfere with the detection of platelet-reactive alloantibodies. Detection of alloantibodies to human platelet antigen 3 (HPA-3) and HPA-9 is especially challenging, in part because of the presence of cell type–specific glycans situated near the polymorphic amino acid that together form the alloepitope. To overcome these limitations, we generated a series of HLA class I–negative blood group O induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines that were gene edited to sequentially convert their endogenous HPA-3a alloantigenic epitope to HPA-3b, and HPA-9a to HPA-9b. Subjecting these cell lines, upon differentiation into CD41+/CD42b+ human megakaryocytes (MKs), to flow cytometric detection of suspected anti-HPA-3 and HPA-9 alloantisera revealed that the HPA-3a–positive MKs specifically reacted with HPA-3a patient sera, whereas the HPA-3b MKs lost reactivity with HPA-3a patient sera while acquiring reactivity to HPA-3b patient sera. Importantly, HPA-9b–expressing MKs specifically reacted with anti-HPA-9b–suspected patient samples that had been undetectable using conventional techniques. The provision of specialized iPSC-derived human MKs expressing intact homozygous glycoprotein alloantigens on the cell surface that carry the appropriate endogenous carbohydrate moieties should greatly enhance detection of clinically important and rare HPA-specific alloantibodies that, to date, have resisted detection using current methods.

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