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Open Access Research article

Two previously proposed P1/P2-differentiating and nine novel polymorphisms at the A4GALT (Pk) locus do not correlate with the presence of the P1 blood group antigen

Åsa Hellberg, M Alan Chester and Martin L Olsson*

Author Affiliations

Division of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Lund University and the Blood Centre, Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden

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BMC Genetics 2005, 6:49  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-6-49

Published: 7 October 2005



The molecular genetics of the P blood group system and the absence of P1 antigen in the p phenotype are still enigmatic. One theory proposes that the same gene encodes for both the P1 and Pk glycosyltransferases, but no polymorphisms in the coding region of the Pk gene explain the P1/P2 phenotypes. We investigated the potential regulatory regions up- and downstream of the A4GALT (Pk) gene exons.


P1 (n = 18) and P2 (n = 9) samples from donors of mainly Swedish descent were analysed by direct sequencing of PCR-amplified 5'- and 3'-fragments surrounding the Pk coding region. Seventy-eight P1 and P2 samples were investigated with PCR using allele-specific primers (ASP) for two polymorphisms previously proposed as P2-related genetic markers (-551_-550insC, -160A>G). Haplotype analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms was also performed with PCR-ASP. In ~1.5 kbp of the 3'-untranslated region one new insertion and four new substitutions compared to a GenBank sequence (AL049757) were found. In addition to the polymorphisms at positions -550 and -160, one insertion, two deletions and one substitution were found in ~1.0 kbp of the 5'-upstream region. All 20 P2 samples investigated with PCR-ASP were homozygous for -550insC. However, so were 18 of the 58 P1 samples investigated. Both the 20 P2 and the 18 P1 samples were also homozygous for -160G.


The proposed P2-specific polymorphisms, -551_-550insC and -160G, found in P2 samples in a Japanese study were found here in homozygous form in both P1 and P2 donors. Since P2 is the null allele in the P blood group system it is difficult to envision how these mutations would cause the P2 phenotype. None of the novel polymorphisms reported in this study correlated with P1/P2 status and the P1/p mystery remains unsolved.