Group O D-negative blood cells are universal donors in transfusion medicine and methods for converting other blood groups into this universal donor group have been researched. However, conversion of D-positive cells into D-negative is yet to be achieved, although conversion of group A or B cells into O cells has been reported. The Rh D blood group is determined by the RHD gene, which encodes a 12-transmembrane domain protein. Here we convert Rh D-positive erythroid progenitor cells into D-negative cells using RHD-targeting transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs). After transfection of TALEN-encoding plasmids, RHD-knockout clones are obtained. Erythroid-lineage cells differentiated from these knockout erythroid progenitor cells do not agglutinate in the presence of anti-D reagents and do not express D antigen, as assessed using flow cytometry. Our programmable nuclease-induced blood group conversion opens new avenues for compatible donor cell generation in transfusion medicine.
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