Missense mutations in the C-terminal portion of the B4GALNT2-encoded glycosyltransferase underlying the Sd(a−) phenotype

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Sda is a high-frequency carbohydrate histo-blood group antigen, GalNAcβ1-4(NeuAcα2-3)Galβ, implicated in pathogen invasion, cancer, xenotransplantation and transfusion medicine. Complete lack of this glycan epitope results in the Sd(a−) phenotype observed in 4% of individuals who may produce anti-Sda. A candidate gene (B4GALNT2), encoding a Sda-synthesizing β-1,4-N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase (β4GalNAc-T2), was cloned in 2003 but the genetic basis of human Sda deficiency was never elucidated. Experimental and bioinformatic approaches were used to identify and characterize B4GALNT2 variants in nine Sd(a−) individuals. Homozygosity for rs7224888:T > C dominated the cohort (n = 6) and causes p.Cys466Arg, which targets a highly conserved residue located in the enzymatically active domain and is judged deleterious to β4GalNAc-T2. Its allele frequency was 0.10–0.12 in different cohorts. A Sd(a−) compound heterozygote combined rs7224888:T > C with a splice-site mutation, rs72835417:G > A, predicted to alter splicing and occurred at a frequency of 0.11–0.12. Another compound heterozygote had two rare nonsynonymous variants, rs148441237:A > G (p.Gln436Arg) and rs61743617:C > T (p.Arg523Trp), in trans. One sample displayed no differences compared to Sd(a+). When investigating linkage disequilibrium between B4GALNT2 variants, we noted a 32-kb block spanning intron 9 to the intergenic region downstream of B4GALNT2. This block includes RP11-708H21.4, a long non-coding RNA recently reported to promote tumorigenesis and poor prognosis in colon cancer. The expression patterns of B4GALNT2 and RP11-708H21.4 correlated extremely well in >1000 cancer cell lines. In summary, we identified a connection between variants of the cancer-associated B4GALNT2 gene and Sda, thereby establishing a new blood group system and opening up for the possibility to predict Sd(a+) and Sd(a‒) phenotypes by genotyping.


External organisations
  • International Blood Group Reference Laboratory
  • University of Gothenburg
  • Sahlgrenska University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Medical Genetics


  • B4GALNT2, Glycosyltransferase, Red blood cell, Sd(a‒) phenotype, Sd histo-blood group antigen
Original languageEnglish
Article number100659
JournalBiochemistry and Biophysics Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Sep
Publication categoryResearch