Blood GroupsVarious glycoproteins and lipoproteins are embedded in the surfaces of red blood cells. These proteins are inherited, and their structures may vary from one individual to another. If during a transfusion an individual receives blood containing RBCs with proteins that the individual does not carry, these proteins may be recognized as foreign antigens by the immune system. If so, antibodies are produced that bind to the antigens and cause agglutination (clumping) and subsequent destruction of the foreign RBCs. There are over 30 common groups of RBC proteins, referred to as antigens, isoantigens, or agglutinogens (which is the preferred term). Generally, each group is controlled by a single gene, and for each gene, two alleles, or forms, of the gene are inherited (one allele from each parent). Each blood group gene may have two or more different alleles in the population. Although not all
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