Molecular Typing for Blood

Blood group antigens are polymeric residues of protein or carbohydrates on the red cell surface. They can provoke an antibody response in individuals who lack them, and some antibodies can lead to hemolytic transfusion reaction or hemolytic disease of the newborn. Researchers have identified the molecular basis of many red cell blood group antigens, and an actively maintained database currently lists over 1,600 alleles of 44 genes. This mini review describes the major applications of the explosion knowledge in blood group genetics to the practice of blood banking and transfusion medicine.