Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) leukocytes fail to express decay-accelerating factor (DAF) but contain DAF mRNA transcripts resembling those in normal cells. To further investigate the nature of the DAF defect in affected cells, patients' polymorphonuclear and mononuclear leukocytes (PMN and MNC) were biosynthetically labeled and newly synthesized DAF proteins examined. Analyses of greater than 98% surface DAF-negative PMN and MNC from a patient with PNH III erythrocytes showed precursor DAF protein approximately 3 kD smaller in each cell type than in normal cells. The proportion of precursor to mature (O-glycosylated) DAF protein was increased and soluble DAF protein was detected in the medium. Studies of 70-80% surface DAF-negative PMN and MNC from four patients with type II erythrocytes showed mixtures of the 3 kD smaller and normal DAF precursors. Partitioning with Triton X-114 detergent and biosynthetic labeling with the anchor precursor [3H]ethanolamine indicated that the abnormal peptides lacked glycosyl-inositolphospholipid membrane-anchoring structures. Thus, in PNH cells nascent DAF polypeptides are synthesized. Some of the abnormal pro-DAF molecules are processed in the Golgi and some are released extracellularly.
D J Carothers, S V Hazra, S W Andreson, M E Medof