Nydegger et al. (4) have reported that the difference in susceptibility of erythrocytes from different inbred murine strains to lysis by the human alternate complement pathway is determined by an autosomal locus. We have found a good correlation between the degree of O-acetylation of the erythrocyte sialic acid residues and the susceptibility to complement lysis, whereas there was no correlation between total erythrocyte sialic acid content and complement sensitivity. The major O-acetylated species in all the murine strains is 9-O-acetyl-N-acetylneuraminic acid. We propose that the autosomal dominant locus, which determines complement sensitivity, acts by influencing the extent of 9-O-acetylation of the erythrocyte sialic acid residues. By using recombinant inbred strains, we determined that this genetic locus is probably located on chromosome 9. The nature of the gene product remains unknown.

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