Human C4 is most polymorphic at the protein level, distinction between allotypes of the C4A and C4B proteins resting on electrophoretic migration patterns and difference in hemolytic activity. The aim of the C4 reference typing has been the definition of reference variants, the assignment of rare variants, and the investigation of duplicated, deleted, or non-expressed and hybrid genes. Samples from 136 individuals, predominantly with known segregation, from 16 laboratories were investigated by standard electrophoretic techniques, for their relative hemolytic activity, reactivity with monoclonal antibodies and Rg/Ch reagents, a-, and ß-chain types, relative electrophoretic migration distance, as well as the C4/21-OH-TaqI RFLPs. The results were evaluated in three groups; they consisted in the definition of the eight most common C4 alleles, and the ten Rg/Ch standard phenotypes in group I. In group II twelve C4A and fourteen C4B duplications among 96 complotypes, as well as eighteen deleted/non-expressed C4A and twenty-two C4B alleles, and hybrid alleles were seen by correlation of lytic activity, electrophoretic mobility, and monoclonal and/or Rg/Ch reactivity. Group III consisted of the newly defined allotypes A 8, A 7, A 58, A 55, A 45, B 45, B 35, and B 22, furthermore of alleles subdividing the A 1/A 91, and the B 13/ B 12/B 11 regions. The reference typing has allowed reclassification of the majority of described C4 allotypes and resulted in a revision of the C4 nomenclature.

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