Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a hemolytic disorder caused by a deficiency of biosynthesis of the glycosyl phosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor, but the biochemical defect is not completely understood. In the present study, we have analyzed affected cell lines established recently from two Japanese patients with PNH. Two lines of evidence indicate that these cells do not synthesize N-acetylglucosaminyl-phosphatidylinositol, the first intermediate in the GPI anchor biosynthesis. First, somatic cell hybridization analysis using Thy-1-deficient murine thymoma cell lines with known biochemical defects as fusion partners showed that the PNH cell lines belong to complementation class A, which is known not to synthesize N-acetylglucosaminyl-phosphatidylinositol. Second, analysis of in vitro glycolipid biosynthesis demonstrated that cell lysates of these PNH cell lines in fact did not support biosynthesis of N-acetylglucosaminyl-phosphatidylinositol. Thus, we have characterized for the first time the exact biochemical defect leading to PNH.

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