Insights into immunoglobulin E receptor signaling from structurally defined ligands

Immunol Rev. 2007 Jun;217:269-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2007.00517.x.


The asymmetrical structure of bent immunoglobulin E (IgE) bound to its high-affinity receptor, Fc epsilon RI, suggests a possible role for this configuration in the regulation of signaling mediated by cross-linking of Fc epsilon RI on the surface of mast cells and basophils. Indeed, the presence of bound IgE strongly influences the capacity of cross-linked Fc epsilon RI dimers to trigger mast cell degranulation, implicating orientational constraints by bound IgE. Bivalent ligands that cross-link by binding to bivalent IgE can form linear and cyclic chains of IgE/Fc epsilon RI complexes, and these exhibit only limited capacity to stimulate downstream signaling and degranulation, whereas structurally analogous trivalent ligands, which can form branched networks of cross-linked IgE/Fc epsilon RI complexes, are more effective at cell activation. Long bivalent ligands with flexible spacers can form intramolecular cross-links with IgE, and these stable 1:1 complexes are very potent inhibitors of mast cell degranulation stimulated by multivalent antigen. In contrast, trivalent ligands with rigid double-stranded DNA spacers effectively stimulate degranulation responses in a length-dependent manner, providing direct evidence for receptor transphosphorylation as a key step in the mechanism of signaling by Fc epsilon RI. Thus, studies with chemically defined oligovalent ligands show important features of IgE receptor cross-linking that regulate signaling, leading to mast cell activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology*
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, IgE / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, IgE / chemistry*
  • Receptors, IgE / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Ligands
  • Receptors, IgE
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • DNA