The blood group A determinant is carried by four basic carrier carbohydrate chains. This paper reports the expression of blood group A variants, as determined by immunohistology with highly specific monoclonal anti-A antibodies, in 18 adenocarcinomas of the distal colon, 4 specimens of normal proximal mucosa from group A persons, and 5 specimens of fetal colonic mucosa. Monoclonal antibodies directed to type 1 chain A, type 1 chain ALeb, type 2 chain A, type 2 chain ALey, and type 3 chain A (repetitive A) were used. In normal mucosa, type 1 chain A and ALeb were expressed in proximal regions. Type 1 chain A was expressed in columnar cells, whereas type 1 chain ALeb was found in goblet cells. Type 2 and type 3 chain A structures were not found in normal adult mucosa. All types of A antigens were detected in adenocarcinomas from the distal colon as well as in normal fetal mucosa. In fetal mucosa, type 1 chain A and ALeb antigens and type 3 chain A antigens were expressed in columnar cells, whereas type 2 chain A and Ley and type 1 chain ALeb antigens were found in goblet cells. The results indicate that blood group A antigens with type 1, 2, and 3 carriers are present in fetal mucosa and adenocarcinomas of distal colon, while epithelial mucosa of normal adult colon is characterized by the exclusive expression of type 1 chain A antigens.

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This investigation was supported by Grant CA42505 from the NIH, and by grants from the Danish Cancer Society (Project 84-124) (N. G.), Ingeborg og Leo Dannins Fonden, Vera og Carl Johan Michaelsens Legat (E. D., H. C.), and Arkitekt Holger Hjortenberg og hustru, Dagmar Hjortenbergs fond (H. C.).

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