Research ArticleImmunology

Allelic-Dependent Expression of an Activating Fc Receptor on B Cells Enhances Humoral Immune Responses

Science Translational Medicine  18 Dec 2013:
Vol. 5, Issue 216, pp. 216ra175
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3007097

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B Cell Balancing Act

Immune cells walk a tight rope as defenders of the body: If there’s too little activation, an infection will go unchecked, whereas if there’s too much, the immune cell may attack the body’s own cells. Hence, these cells are highly regulated through negative and positive signals. For B cells, some of these signals come through Fc receptors, which bind the Fc tail of antibodies. Now, Li et al. report the activating receptor FcγRIIc on B cells.

B cells had been thought to express only inhibitory Fcγ receptor, FcγRIIb, which serves as feedback inhibition for immunoglobulin G production. The authors report that human B cells may also express FcγRIIc, which counterbalances negative signaling through FcγRIIb. FcγRIIc enhanced humoral immune responses to vaccination both in transgenic mice and in humans in an anthrax vaccine trial. What’s more, the FCGR2C-ORF allele is associated with autoimmunity risk in humans. By determining which individuals express this allele, these data will help guide more precise antibody-based therapy.