The adaptive humoral immune response is responsible for the generation of antimicrobial proteins known as immunoglobulin molecules or antibodies. Immunoglobulins provide a defense system against pathogenic microbes and toxins by targeting them for removal and/or destruction. Historically, antibodies have been thought to be composed of distinct structural domains known as the variable and constant regions that are responsible for antigen binding and mediating effector functions such as opsonization and complement activation, respectively. These domains were thought to be structurally and functionally independent. Recent work has revealed however, that in some families of antibodies, the two regions can influence each other. We will discuss the body of work that led to these observations, as well as the mechanisms that have been proposed to explain how these two different antibody regions may interact in the function of antigen binding.
Keywords: constant region; function; immunoglobulin; isotype; structure; variable region.