Landsteiner and his colleagues demonstrated that human beings could be classified into four groups depending on the presence of one (A) or another (B) or both (AB) or none (O) of the antigens on their red cells. The number of the blood group antigens up to 1984 was 410. In the next 20 years, there were 16 systems with 144 antigens and quite a collection of antigens waiting to be assigned to systems, pending the discovery of new information about their relationship to the established systems. The importance of most blood group antigens had been recognized by immunological complications of blood transfusion or pregnancies; their molecular structure and function however remained undefined for many decades. Recent advances in molecular genetics and cellular biochemistry resulted in an abundance of new information in this field of research. In this review, we try to give some examples of advances made in the field of 'structure and function of the red cell surface molecules.'
Keywords: Adhesion molecule; GPI-glycophosphatidylinositol; blood group antigens; complement; enzyme activity.