Ethnic Japanese Show Higher Risk For Junior And Langereis Negative Blood Types
By Rebecca Lim | Health & Medicine
March 5, 2012
Researchers have discovered the molecular basis for two new blood types: Langereis and Junior, and they seem to be associated with ethnic Japanese populations more so than others.
AsianScientist (Mar. 5, 2012) – In addition to the major blood types A, B, AB and O, our red cells contain other antigens (membrane proteins or carbohydrates) such as Rhesus, Kell, and Duffy. Although these 30 blood types are uncommon, they can potentially complicate blood transfusions.
Researchers from the University of Vermont, together with their French counterparts, have discovered two new blood types: Langereis and Junior. While these are rare worldwide, several ethnic populations are at risk for not carrying the Langereis and Junior blood type proteins, such as the Japanese and European Gypsies.
“More than 50,000 Japanese are thought to be Junior negative and may encounter blood transfusion problems or mother-fetus incompatibility,” said University of Vermont biologist Bryan Ballif.
In findings that were published in the February issue of Nature Genetics, the team identified the molecules responsible for the two blood types as specialized transport proteins named ABCB6 and ABCG2.
Although the antigens for the Junior and Langereis (or Lan) blood types were identified decades ago, and have been known to cause complications in pregnant women carrying babies with incompatible blood types, the genetic basis of these antigens has been unknown until now.
“Now that we know these proteins, it will become a routine test,” said Ballif.
This discovery might also benefit organ transplant patients, as screening for these proteins might mean the difference between a good match and a failed one. Both proteins are also associated with anticancer drug resistance, and so the findings may also have implications for improved treatment of breast and other cancers.
Ballif and his international colleagues suspect there are more blood types left to be found.
“We’re following up on more unknown blood types,” he said. “There are probably on the order of 10 to 15 more of these unknown blood type systems – where we know there is a problem but we don’t know what the protein is that is causing the problem.”
The article can be found at: Helias V et al. (2012) ABCB6 is dispensable for erythropoiesis and specifies the new blood group system Langereis.
Source: University of Vermont.
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