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Br J Haematol. 2004 Sep;126(6):759-71.

Genetic basis of blood group diversity.

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Blood Centre, University Hospital and Department of Transfusion Medicine, Institute of Laboratory Medicine, Lund, Sweden.


In the last 18 years the genes that encode all but one of the 29 blood group systems present on red blood cells (RBCs) have been identified. This body of knowledge has permitted the application of molecular techniques to characterize the common blood group antigens and to elucidate the background for some of the variant phenotypes. Just as the RBC was used as a model for the biochemical characterization of cell membranes, so the genes encoding blood groups provide a readily accessible model for the study of gene expression and diversity. The application of genotyping techniques to identify fetuses at risk of haemolytic disease of the newborn is now the standard of care, and the expansion of nucleic acid testing platforms to include both disease testing and blood typing in the blood centre is on the horizon. This review summarizes the molecular basis of blood groups and illustrates the mechanisms that generate diversity through specific examples.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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