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Innate Immun. 2010 Jun;16(3):131-7. doi: 10.1177/1753425910370498.

Antibody equivalent molecules of the innate immune system: parallels between innate and adaptive immune proteins.


Soluble pattern-recognition innate immune proteins functionally resemble the antibodies of the adaptive immune system. Two major families of such proteins are ficolins and collectins or collagenous lectins (e.g. mannose-binding lectin [MBL], surfactant proteins [SP-A and SP-D] and conglutinin). In general, subunits of ficolins and collectins recognize the carbohydrate arrays of their targets via globular trimeric carbohydrate-recognition domains (CRDs) whereas IgG, IgM and other antibody isotypes recognize proteins via dimeric antigen-binding domains (Fab). Considering the structure and functions of these proteins, ficolins and MBL are analogous to molecules with the complement activating functions of C1q and the target recognition ability of IgG. Although the structure of SP-A is similar to MBL, it does not activate the complement system. Surfactant protein-D and conglutinin could be considered as the collagenous non-complement activating giant IgMs of the innate immune system. Proteins such as peptidoglycan-recognition proteins, pentraxins and agglutinin gp-340/DMBT1 are also pattern-recognition proteins. These proteins may be considered as different isotypes of antibody-like molecules. Proteins such as defensins, cathelicidins and lactoferrins directly or indirectly alter microbes or microbial growth. These proteins may not be considered as antibodies of the innate immune system. Hence, ficolins and collectins could be considered as specialized 'antibodies of the innate immune system' instead of 'ante-antibody' innate immune molecules. The discovery, structure, functions and future research directions of many of these soluble proteins and receptors such as Toll-like and NOD-like receptors are discussed in this special issue of Innate Immunity.

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