Immunoglobulin A (IgA) has a critical role in immune defense particularly at the mucosal surfaces, and is equipped to do so by the unique structural attributes of its heavy chain and by its ability to polymerize. Here, we provide an overview of human IgA structure, describing the distinguishing features of the IgA1 and IgA2 subclasses and mapping the sites of interaction with host receptors important for IgA's functional repertoire. Remarkably, these same interaction sites are targeted by binding proteins and proteases produced by various pathogens as a means to subvert the protective IgA response. As interest in the prospect of therapeutic IgA-based monoclonal antibodies grows, the emerging understanding of the relationship between IgA structure and function will be invaluable for maximizing the potential of these novel reagents.
- POLYMERIC IMMUNOGLOBULIN RECEPTOR
- HUMAN SERUM IGA1
- SECRETORY COMPONENT
- A1 IGA1
- MOLECULAR CHARACTERIZATION