Evidence for convergent evolution of A and B blood group antigens in primates.
To determine whether convergent or trans-specific evolution is responsible for the persistence of the ABO polymorphism in apes, we have sequenced segments of introns 5 and 6 of the ABO gene. Four substitutions and one insertion or deletion group human A, B, and O alleles together, separate from their chimpanzee A and gorilla B counterparts. No shared substitutions support a trans-species mode of evolution for any of the alleles examined. We conclude that the A and B antigens of the chimpanzee and gorilla, respectively, have arisen by convergent evolution. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that the human A and B alleles are ancient, having diverged at least 3 million years ago. These alleles must have therefore been trans-specifically inherited within the genus Homo.