Human red blood cells are traditionally typed as Rhesus (Rh)-positive or -negative depending on the presence or absence of the Rh D antigen. A recent report demonstrated that the Rh D gene is completely absent in Rh D-negative individuals. In this study, Rh D-negative blood donors with ccee (n = 25) and CCee (n = 3) phenotypes were examined for the presence of absence of the D gene. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) probes that hybridize to the 5' and 3' regions of the Rh CcEe gene and the closely related D gene were used in a Southern analysis. The D gene was absent in all ccee phenotypes examined. The CCee phenotypes showed three Rh D polymorphisms: one donor lacked the D gene, one donor had a partial deletion on one D gene at the 3' region, and the remaining donor appeared to have one normal D gene within the intron/exon regions examined. We conclude that, while the D gene may be absent in the majority of Rh D-negative phenotypes, rarer polymorphisms also occur that prevent expression of the D antigen resulting in the Rh D-negative phenotype.

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