The expression of Rhesus antigens on hematopoietic progenitor cells was studied using monoclonal antibodies. Because these antibodies are not capable of lysing mature red blood cells in a complement-dependent cytotoxicity assay, fluorescence-activated cell sorting was performed. Using the monoclonal anti-Rh 29 antibody B10, 68% +/- 6% of the mature erythroid progenitor cells (CFU-E) were sorted into the positive fraction, while only 2% +/- 1% of the relatively immature erythroid progenitor cells (BFU-E), and 3% +/- 1% of the granulocyte-macrophage progenitor cells (CFU-GM) were cultured from this same fraction. Thus up to a 15-fold enrichment of CFU-E could be obtained. In two experiments more than 4% of the cells in the positive fraction consisted of CFU-E; in one experiment even more than 7% did. Using fractionated cell sorting, the Rhesus antigens appeared to have a lower density on CFU-E than HLA-DR determinants. Antibodies against the Rhesus antigens can be applied to enrich erythroid-committed stem cells and to separate mature from immature erythroid progenitor cells.

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