Membrane proteins of human fetal primitive nucleated red blood cells

Sukumar Ponnusamy, Huoming Zhang, Priya Kadam, Qingsong Lin, Teck Kwang Lim, Jaspal Singh Sandhu, Narasimhan Kothandaraman, Aniza Puteri Mahyuddin, Arijit Biswas, Annapoorna Venkat, Choy Leong Hew, Shashikant B. Joshi, Maxey Ching Ming Chung, Mahesh Choolani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In humans, primitive fetal nucleated red blood cells (FNRBCs) are thought to be as vital for embryonic life as their counterpart, adult red blood cells (adult RBCs) are in later-gestation fetuses and adults. Unlike adult RBCs, the identity and functions of FNRBC proteins are poorly understood owing to a scarcity of FNRBCs for proteomic investigations. The study aimed to investigate membrane proteins of this unique cell type. We present here, the first report on the membrane proteome of human primitive FNRBCs investigated by two-dimensional liquid chromatography coupled with mass-spectrometry (2D-LCMS/MS) and bioinformatics analysis. A total of 273 proteins were identified, of which 133 (48.7%) were membrane proteins. We compared our data with membrane proteins of adult RBCs to identify common, and unique, surface membrane proteins. Twelve plasma membrane proteins with transmembrane domains and eight proteins with transmembrane domains but without known sub-cellular location were identified as unique-to-FNRBCs. Except for the transferrin receptor, all other 19 unique-to-FNRBC membrane proteins have never been described in RBCs. Reverse-transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) and immunocytochemistry validated the 2D-LCMS/MS data. Our findings provide potential surface antigens for separation of primitive FNRBCs from maternal blood for noninvasive prenatal diagnosis, and to understand the biology of these rare cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5762-5773
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Proteomics
Issue number18
StatePublished - Oct 22 2012


  • Erythrocytes
  • Human fetal nucleated red blood cells
  • Membrane protein profiling
  • Noninvasive prenatal diagnosis
  • RBC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry


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