There are multiple antigens, but the ones that are most likely to cause an immune response are the A and B antigens
. Blood group A has the A antigen, and blood group B has the B antigen
Moreover, by inserting the cloned genes into type O blood cells -- which have no major blood-type markers, or antigens, of their own -- the scientists then induced these cells to produce the A and B antigens on their surfaces.
Hakomori and his colleagues analyzed the genes associated with the A and B antigens in blood cell lines belonging to the three major blood groups, A, B and O.
The team's success in coaxing O blood cells to produce A and B antigens indicates the potential for one day altering a person's blood type, but that possibility "may be down the pike," says hematologist Elizabeth Read of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Md.