Clustering of Complement Receptor 1 (CR1) in the erythrocyte membrane is important for immune-complex transfer and clearance. CR1 contains the Knops blood group antigens, including the antithetical pairs Swain-Langley 1 and 2 (Sl1 and Sl2) and McCoy a and b (McC(a) and McC(b)), whose functional effects are unknown. We tested the hypothesis that the Sl and McC polymorphisms might influence CR1 clustering on erythrocyte membranes. Blood samples from 125 healthy Kenyan children were analysed by immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy to determine CR1 cluster number and volume. In agreement with previous reports, CR1 cluster number and volume were positively associated with CR1 copy number (mean number of CR1 molecules per erythrocyte). Individuals with the McC (b) /McC (b) genotype had more clusters per cell than McC (a) /McC (a) individuals. However, this association was lost when the strong effect of CR1 copy number was included in the model. No association was observed between Sl genotype, sickle cell genotype, alpha+thalassaemia genotype, gender or age and CR1 cluster number or volume. Therefore, after correction for CR1 copy number, the Sl and McCoy polymorphisms did not influence erythrocyte CR1 clustering, and the effects of the Knops polymorphisms on CR1 function remains unknown.
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