Extensive polymorphism of the FUT2 gene in an African (Xhosa) population of South Africa

Hum Genet. 1998 Aug;103(2):204-10. doi: 10.1007/s004390050808.


The human secretor type alpha(1,2)fucosyltransferase gene (FUT2) polymorphism was investigated in Xhosa and Caucasian populations of South Africa by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism and DNA sequencing. Six new base substitutions were found in the coding region of FUT2. A single base (C) deletion at nucleotide 778, which led to a frame shift and produced a stop codon at codon 275, was responsible for the enzyme inactivation. Three nonsynonymous base substitutions, A40G (lle14Val), C379T (Arg127Cys), and G481A (Asp161Asn), and two synonymous base substitutions, A375G (Glu125) and C480T (His160), were also identified in functional alleles. As a result, seven new alleles, Se40, Se481, Se40,481, Se357,480, Se357,379,480, Se375, and se357,480,778 were identified. Population studies revealed that an allele containing a nonsense mutation G428A (Trp143stop) (se428) was the common null allele in both Xhosa and Caucasian populations, whereas an allele containing a missense A385T (Ile129Phe) mutation (se357,385), which is the common null allele in Orientals, was found to be absent from both populations. The heterozygosity rates of FUT2 genotypes were as high as 0.75 in the Xhosa population and 0.65 in the Caucasian population. Therefore, the extensive polymorphism and race specificity of the FUT2 gene make it suitable for application as a new tool in genetic studies of modern human evolutionary history.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Continental Ancestry Group / genetics*
  • Alleles
  • Base Pairing
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / genetics
  • Fucosyltransferases / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • South Africa


  • Fucosyltransferases
  • galactoside 2-alpha-L-fucosyltransferase