A natural IgG antibody (anti-Gal) with alpha-galactosyl binding specificity has been found in large amounts (0.5 - 1.0% of serum IgG) in all individuals tested. It has been purified by affinity chromatography on a column of melibiose-Sepharose. In addition to its affinity for normal and pathological senescent human red cells, the antibody readily interacts with rabbit red blood cell (RRBC) glycolipids with alpha-galactosyl terminal residues. Two types (glycosidic linkages of 1----3 vs. 1----4) of rabbit red cells glycolipids with terminal alpha-galactosyl residues were tested for antibody binding. The antibody specifically bound to glycolipids with Gal alpha 1----3 terminal residues, and treatment of these glycolipids with alpha-galactosidase abolished binding. Hemagglutination inhibition studies with oligosaccharides of known structure also showed that the antibody binds specifically to glycoconjugates with an alpha 1----3 terminal galactose residue. Anti-Gal did not bind to a human B-active glycolipid, indicating that fucose-linked alpha 1----2 to the penultimate galactose prevents anti-Gal binding. The anti-Gal specificity for RRBC glycolipids also paralleled that of the alpha-galactosyl-specific Bandeiraea simplicifolia lectin. The possible reasons for the occurrence of this unique antibody in human serum are discussed.

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