Biochemical evidence that secretor gene, Se, is a structural gene encoding a specific fucosyltransferase

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1984 Jul;81(13):4193-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.81.13.4193.


Nonsecretors have no ABH blood group substances in their saliva and milk, but their erythrocytes contain the blood group substances. It has been generally believed that the secretor gene, Se, is a regulatory gene, not a structural gene, controlling the expression of (alpha 1----2)fucosyltransferase, which synthesizes the blood group H substance from its precursor, in secretions. To account for the existence of the blood type of "para Bombay" phenotype--i.e., H-negative in erythrocytes but H-positive in secretory fluids, another regulatory gene, Z, which would regulate the expression of the enzyme in the hematopoietic tissues, has been proposed. Contrary to this, a more simple model, in which the H gene and Se gene are both structural genes, encoding two separate fucosyltransferases in different tissues, was recently proposed. To settle the controversy, (alpha 1----2)fucosyltransferases were partially purified from human plasma and milk. The two enzymes differed from each other in the following respects: (i) the milk enzyme adsorbed to SP-Sephadex at pH 6.0, while the plasma enzyme did not; (ii) pH-activity profiles, with phenyl beta-D-galactoside as an acceptor, differed between the two enzymes; (iii) the milk enzyme exhibited lower thermal stability than the plasma enzyme; and (iv) Km values for several oligosaccharides with Gal(beta 1----3)GlcNAc and Gal(beta 1----4)GlcNAc as acceptors differed between the two enzymes. These results support the model that the Se gene is a structural gene encoding a distinctive (alpha 1----2)fucosyltransferase, refuting the classical regulatory gene model for the Se locus. The anomeric configuration of the fucosylated galactose residue produced by the action of enzyme was identified, thus establishing the specificity of the enzyme.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fucosyltransferases / genetics*
  • Fucosyltransferases / isolation & purification
  • Fucosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Genes*
  • Hexosyltransferases / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Milk, Human / enzymology
  • Organ Specificity
  • Pregnancy
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Fucosyltransferases
  • Hexosyltransferases
  • galactoside 2-alpha-L-fucosyltransferase