Two forms of the human C3b receptor (C3bR), which have relative molecular weights (Mr) of 250,000 and 260,000 and are designated F and S, respectively, have been identified in specific immunoprecipitates from erythrocytes and leukocytes by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis in the presence of sodium dodecyl sulfate. Both forms of the receptor were visualized on gels by autoradiography of 125I-labeled antigen and by silver nitrate staining. Individual donors expressed one of three possible patterns of C3bR, either the F or S form alone or both, and these patterns represented stable phenotypic characteristics of their erythrocytes and polymorphonuclear and mononuclear leukocytes. Removal of N-linked oligosaccharides by endoglycosidase-F treatment decreased the Mr of both forms but did not abolish the difference in their electrophoretic mobilities. That both forms of the receptor were functional was indicated by the capacity of all antigenic C3bR sites on erythrocytes from individuals having any of the three phenotypes to bind dimeric C3b with affinities ranging from 3 to 5 X 10(7) M-1. Analyses of the occurrence of the F and S forms of C3bR in 76 individuals from 15 families revealed that this polymorphism was regulated by two alleles transmitted in an autosomal codominant manner. Of 111 normal unrelated individuals, 64.9% were homozygous for the F form (FF), 1.8% were homozygous for the S form (SS), and 33.3% were heterozygotes (FS). This distribution did not differ from that calculated by the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium based on two codominant alleles that regulate the expression of the F and S forms and that have frequencies of 81.5 and 18.5%, respectively. The locus regulating structural polymorphism of C3bR is designated C3BRM (M for mobility or Mr), and is distinct from the recently described locus regulating the quantitative expression of C3bR on erythrocytes.
W W Wong, J G Wilson, D T Fearon