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Cancer Immunol Res. 2014 May;2(5):381-92. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-14-0029.

Affinity enhancement of antibodies: how low-affinity antibodies produced early in immune responses are followed by high-affinity antibodies later and in memory B-cell responses.

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1
Authors' Affiliations: Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Abstract

The antibodies produced initially in response to most antigens are high molecular weight (MW) immunoglobulins (IgM) with low affinity for the antigen, while the antibodies produced later are lower MW classes (e.g., IgG and IgA) with, on average, orders of magnitude higher affinity for that antigen. These changes, often termed affinity maturation, take place largely in small B-cell clusters (germinal center; GC) in lymphoid tissues in which proliferating antigen-stimulated B cells express the highly mutagenic cytidine deaminase that mediates immunoglobulin class-switching and sequence diversification of the immunoglobulin variable domains of antigen-binding receptors on B cells (BCR). Of the large library of BCR-mutated B cells thus rapidly generated, a small minority with affinity-enhancing mutations are selected to survive and differentiate into long-lived antibody-secreting plasma cells and memory B cells. BCRs are also endocytic receptors; they internalize and cleave BCR-bound antigen, yielding peptide-MHC complexes that are recognized by follicular helper T cells. Imperfect correlation between BCR affinity for antigen and cognate T-cell engagement may account for the increasing affinity heterogeneity that accompanies the increasing average affinity of antibodies. Conservation of mechanisms underlying mutation and selection of high-affinity antibodies over the ≈200 million years of evolution separating bird and mammal lineages points to the crucial role of antibody affinity enhancement in adaptive immunity.

PMID:
24795350
DOI:
10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-14-0029
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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