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J Exp Med. 1999 Feb 15;189(4):747-52.

A human immunoglobulin (Ig)A calpha3 domain motif directs polymeric Ig receptor-mediated secretion.

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Molecular Immunogenetics Program, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104, USA.


Polymeric immunoglobulins provide immunological protection at mucosal surfaces to which they are specifically transported by the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR). Using a panel of human IgA1/IgG1 constant region "domain swap" mutants, the binding site for the pIgR on dimeric IgA (dIgA) was localized to the Calpha3 domain. Selection of random peptides for pIgR binding and comparison with the IgA sequence suggested amino acids 402-410 (QEPSQGTTT), in a predicted exposed loop of the Calpha3 domain, as a potential binding site. Alanine substitution of two groups of amino acids in this area abrogated the binding of dIgA to pIgR, whereas adjacent substitutions in a beta-strand immediately NH2-terminal to this loop had no effect. All pIgR binding IgA sequences contain a conserved three amino acid insertion, not present in IgG, at this position. These data localize the pIgR binding site on dimeric human IgA to this loop structure in the Calpha3 domain, which directs mucosal secretion of polymeric antibodies. We propose that it may be possible to use a pIgR binding motif to deliver antigen-specific dIgA and small-molecule drugs to mucosal epithelia for therapy.

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