The ABO, Lewis and related blood group antigens; a review of structure and biosynthesis

FEMS Microbiol Immunol. 1989 Jun;1(6-7):321-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.1989.tb02417.x.


Numerous studies have shown that the antigenic determinants of the ABO blood group system are closely related in biochemical terms to the antigenic determinants of the Hh, P, Lewis and Ii blood group systems. The blood group antigens of each of these systems are formed by the addition of specific sugars to an oligosaccharide precursor chain which may be bound through sphingosine to fatty acids (glycolipid) or through serine or threonine to a peptide chain (glycoproteins). The direct gene products of each of these blood group systems are the glycosyltransferase enzymes which catalyse the addition of the specific sugar thus conferring the specified blood group activity to the glycolipid or glycoprotein molecule. The antigenic determinants of the ABO and Lewis systems in addition to red cells also exist in the body secretions in soluble form when the relevant genes are expressed in the phenotype. The antigens expressed on both the red cells and in the secretions are determined by the interaction of Hh, Sese, ABO and Lele genes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ABO Blood-Group System / genetics
  • ABO Blood-Group System / immunology*
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Humans
  • Isoantigens / biosynthesis
  • Isoantigens / genetics
  • Lewis Blood Group Antigens / genetics
  • Lewis Blood Group Antigens / immunology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Structure


  • ABO Blood-Group System
  • Isoantigens
  • Lewis Blood Group Antigens