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Mol Cell. 2001 Apr;7(4):867-77.

Crystal structure at 2.8 A of an FcRn/heterodimeric Fc complex: mechanism of pH-dependent binding.

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Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


The neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) transports immunoglobulin G (IgG) across epithelia, binding IgG in acidic vesicles (pH < or = 6.5) and releasing IgG in the blood at pH 7.4. Well-ordered FcRn/Fc crystals are prevented by the formation of "oligomeric ribbons" of FcRn dimers bridged by Fc homodimers, thus we crystallized a 1:1 complex between rat FcRn and a heterodimeric Fc containing only one FcRn binding site. The 2.8 A complex structure demonstrates that FcRn uses its alpha2 and beta2-microglobulin domains and carbohydrate to interact with the Fc C(gamma)2-C(gamma)3 interface. The structure reveals conformational changes in Fc and three titratable salt bridges that confer pH-dependent binding, and can be used to guide rational design of therapeutic IgGs with longer serum half-lives.

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