Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a clonal stem cell disorder caused by a somatic mutation of the PIGA gene. The product of this gene is required for the biosynthesis of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchors; therefore, the phenotypic hallmark of PNH cells is an absence or marked deficiency of all GPI-anchored proteins. Aerolysin is a toxin secreted by the bacterial pathogen Aeromonas hydrophila and is capable of killing target cells by forming channels in their membranes after binding to GPI-anchored receptors. We found that PNH blood cells (erythrocytes, lymphocytes, and granulocytes), but not blood cells from normals or other hematologic disorders, are resistant to the cytotoxic effects of aerolysin. The percentage of lysis of PNH cells after aerolysin exposure paralleled the percentage of CD59+ cells in the samples measured by flow cytometry. The kinetics of red blood cell lysis correlated with the type of PNH erythrocytes. PNH type III cells were completely resistant to aerolysin, whereas PNH type II cells displayed intermediate sensitivity. Importantly, the use of aerolysin allowed us to detect PNH populations that could not be detected by standard flow cytometry. Resistance of PNH cells to aerolysin allows for a simple, inexpensive assay for PNH that is sensitive and specific. Aerolysin should also be useful in studying PNH biology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology