Regulation of the Mucosal IgA System

  • Finn-Eirik Johansen
  • Ranveig Braathen
  • Else Munthe
  • Hilde Schjerven
  • Per Brandtzaeg

The vulnerable mucosae are persistently exposed to airborne, ingested, and sexually transmitted potentially harmful agents. First-line protection of the mucosal surface area, encompassing about 400 m2 in an adult human, depends on active export of secretory IgA (SIgA) and, to some extent, secretory IgM (SIgM) antibodies (Brandtzaeg et al., 1999c) (Fig. 5.1). This secretory immune system is distinct from the systemic counterpart and is operational earlier in ontogeny. Production of SIgA relies on a predominant class switch to the IgA isotypes and a high expression level of the joining (J) chain in mucosal plasma cells (PCs) to ensure adequate production of polymeric IgA (pIgA; mostly dimers) (Brandtzaeg, 1974; Brandtzaeg et al., 1999a). These processes depend on transcriptional activation of the IgA germline (CHα) genes and the J-chain gene. Active epithelial export of pIgA requires abundant expression of the epithelial polymeric Ig receptor (pIgR), because this transport protein is sacrificed with the delivery of its cargo (see Chapter 3). The crucial importance of the J-chain and the pIgR for epithelial transport of pIgA is highlighted by the absence of SIgA in knockout mice deficient for either of these genes (Hendrickson et al., 1995; Johansen et al., 1999; Lycke et al., 1999; Shimada et al., 1999).


Interferon Regulatory Factor Mucosal Immune System Secretory Component Upstream Stimulatory Factor Intronic Enhancer 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Finn-Eirik Johansen
    • 1
  • Ranveig Braathen
    • 1
  • Else Munthe
    • 1
  • Hilde Schjerven
    • 1
  • Per Brandtzaeg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department and Institute of PathologyRikshospitalet University HospitalNorway

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