Fc receptor biology

Annu Rev Immunol. 1997;15:203-34. doi: 10.1146/annurev.immunol.15.1.203.


This review deals with membrane Fc receptors (FcR) of the immunoglobulin superfamily. It is focused on the mechanisms by which FcR trigger and regulate biological responses of cells on which they are expressed. FcR deliver signals when they are aggregated at the cell surface. The aggregation of FcR having immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motifs (ITAMs) activates sequentially src family tyrosine kinases and syk family tyrosine kinases that connect transduced signals to common activation pathways shared with other receptors. FcR with ITAMs elicit cell activation, endocytosis, and phagocytosis. The nature of responses depends primarily on the cell type. The aggregation of FcR without ITAM does not trigger cell activation. Most of these FcR internalize their ligands, which can be endocytosed, phagocytosed, or transcytosed. The fate of internalized receptor-ligand complexes depends on defined sequences in the intracytoplasmic domain of the receptors. The coaggregation of different FcR results in positive or negative cooperation. Some FcR without ITAM use FcR with ITAM as signal transduction subunits. The coaggregation of antigen receptors or of FcR having ITAMs with FcR having immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibition motifs (ITIMs) negatively regulates cell activation. FcR therefore appear as the subunits of multichain receptors whose constitution is not predetermined and which deliver adaptative messages as a function of the environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Structure
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptor Aggregation
  • Receptors, Fc / chemistry
  • Receptors, Fc / genetics
  • Receptors, Fc / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tyrosine / chemistry


  • Receptors, Fc
  • Tyrosine
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases