The Forssman F system

The F antigen is the antigen originally described by Forssman as an antigen shared by sheep erythrocytes and guinea pig kidney. All the animal kingdom may be divided into F-positive species containing this antigen (guinea pig, hamster, mouse, sheep, goat, horse, dog, cat, chicken, etc.) and F-negative species (rabbit, rat, humans, apes, monkeys, ox, goose, etc.) which do not have this antigen. Interestingly, the appearance of F antigen in various animals does not parallel their genetic relatedness. Sera of F-negative species, notably rabbit and humans, frequently have naturally occurring F antibodies. The antigen shared by all F-positive animals is a glycosphingolipid, with a pentasaccharide being the active epitope. There is evidence that F antigen may appear in tumors of F-negative animals, including humans. Increased titers of F antibodies were noted in some patients with malignancies. Serologically characteristic is the disappearance of agglutination of sheep erythrocytes after absorption of the F antiserum by guinea pig kidney suspension, but not by bovine erythrocytes.

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