Genetic regulation of the expression of ABH and Lewis antigens in tissues

APMIS Suppl. 1992:27:28-38.


Sequential appearance of ABH antigens in different animal species shows a progression from tissues of endodermal to ectodermal and finally mesodermal origin, human erythrocytes being the last cells to acquire these antigens. In view of this, ABH antigens should be called tissue or histo-blood group antigens rather than blood group antigens. In addition to the glycosyltransferases encoded by the ABO genes, several alpha-2, alpha-3 and alpha-4-fucosyltransferases are needed to account for the known ABH histo-blood group antigens. The genetic polymorphism of the genes encoding each of these enzymes defines inter-individual differences. In addition, in the same individual various tissues express these antigens in a different way. For each adult epithelial tissue, antigenic expression is related to cell maturation from germinal layer to surface epithelium. Differential expression is also found at various embryonal stages of the same cells. Examples of these phenomena are presented in an effort to gain further insight into the genetic regulation of the expression of these complex oligosaccharide molecules.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • ABO Blood-Group System / chemistry
  • ABO Blood-Group System / genetics*
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Embryo, Mammalian / enzymology
  • Epistasis, Genetic
  • Fucosyltransferases / genetics
  • Galactosyltransferases / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Lewis Blood Group Antigens / chemistry
  • Lewis Blood Group Antigens / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Species Specificity
  • Tissue Distribution


  • ABO Blood-Group System
  • Lewis Blood Group Antigens
  • Fucosyltransferases
  • Galactosyltransferases