Antigen

In immunology, antigens (Ag) are structures (aka substances) specifically bound by antibodies (Ab) or a cell surface version of Ab ~ B cell antigen receptor (BCR). The term antigen originally described a structural molecule that binds specifically to an antibody only in the form of native antigen. It was expanded later to refer to any molecule or a linear molecular fragment after processing the native antigen that can be recognized by T-cell receptor (TCR). BCR and TCR are both highly variable antigen receptors diversified by somatic V(D)J recombination. Both T cells and B cells are cellular components of adaptive immunity. [1] The Ag abbreviation stands for an antibody generator. [2]

Antigens are "targeted" by antibodies. Each antibody is specifically produced by the immune system to match an antigen after cells in the immune system come into contact with it; this allows a precise identification or matching of the antigen and the initiation of a tailored response. The antibody is said to "match" the antigen in the sense that it can bind to it due to an adaptation in a region of the antibody; because of this, many different antibodies are produced, each able to bind a different antigen while sharing the same basic structure. In most cases, an adapted antibody can only react to and bind one specific antigen; in some instances, however, antibodies may cross-react and bind more than one antigen.

Also, an antigen is a molecule that binds to Ag-specific receptors, but cannot necessarily induce an immune response in the body by itself.[3] Antigens are usually proteins, peptides (amino acid chains) and polysaccharides (chains of monosaccharides/simple sugars) but lipids and nucleic acids become antigens only when combined with proteins and polysaccharides.[4] In general, saccharides and lipids (as opposed to peptides) qualify as antigens but not as immunogens since they cannot elicit an immune response on their own. Furthermore, for a peptide to induce an immune response (activation of T-cells by antigen-presenting cells) it must be a large enough size, since peptides too small will also not elicit an immune response.

The antigen may originate from within the body ("self-antigen") or from the external environment ("non-self"). The immune system is supposed to identify and attack "non-self" invaders from the outside world or modified/harmful substances present in the body and usually does not react to self-antigens under normal homeostatic conditions due to negative selection of T cells in the thymus.[5]

Vaccines are examples of antigens in an immunogenic form, which are intentionally administered to a recipient to induce the memory function of adaptive immune system toward the antigens of the pathogen invading that recipient.

Antibody
An illustration that shows how antigens induce the immune system response by interacting with an antibody that matches the antigen's molecular structure.

Etymology

Paul Ehrlich coined the term antibody (in German Antikörper) in his side-chain theory at the end of the 19th century.[6] In 1899, Ladislas Deutsch (Laszlo Detre) (1874–1939) named the hypothetical substances halfway between bacterial constituents and antibodies "substances immunogenes ou antigenes" (antigenic or immunogenic substances). He originally believed those substances to be precursors of antibodies, just as zymogen is a precursor of an enzyme. But, by 1903, he understood that an antigen induces the production of immune bodies (antibodies) and wrote that the word antigen is a contraction of antisomatogen (Immunkörperbildner). The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that the logical construction should be "anti(body)-gen".[7]

Terminology

  • Epitope – The distinct surface features of an antigen, its antigenic determinant. Antigenic molecules, normally "large" biological polymers, usually present surface features that can act as points of interaction for specific antibodies. Any such feature constitutes an epitope. Most antigens have the potential to be bound by multiple antibodies, each of which is specific to one of the antigen's epitopes. Using the "lock and key" metaphor, the antigen can be seen as a string of keys (epitopes) each of which matches a different lock (antibody). Different antibody idiotypes, each have distinctly formed complementarity determining regions.
  • Allergen – A substance capable of causing an allergic reaction. The (detrimental) reaction may result after exposure via ingestion, inhalation, injection, or contact with skin.
  • Superantigen – A class of antigens that cause non-specific activation of T-cells, resulting in polyclonal T-cell activation and massive cytokine release.
  • Tolerogen – A substance that invokes a specific immune non-responsiveness due to its molecular form. If its molecular form is changed, a tolerogen can become an immunogen.
  • Immunoglobulin-binding protein – Proteins such as protein A, protein G, and protein L that are capable of binding to antibodies at positions outside of the antigen-binding site. While antigens are the "target" of antibodies, immunoglobulin-binding proteins "attack" antibodies.
  • T-dependent antigen – Antigens that require the assistance of T cells to induce the formation of specific antibodies.
  • T-independent antigen – Antigens that stimulate B cells directly.
  • Immunodominant antigens – Antigens that dominate (over all others from a pathogen) in their ability to produce an immune response. T cell responses typically are directed against a relatively few immunodominant epitopes, although in some cases (e.g., infection with the malaria pathogen Plasmodium spp.) it is dispersed over a relatively large number of parasite antigens.[8]

Antigen presenting cells present antigens in the form of peptides on histocompatibility molecules. The T cell selectively recognize the antigens; depending on the antigen and the type of the histocompatibility molecule, different types of T cells will be activated. For T Cell Receptor (TCR) recognition, the peptide must be processed into small fragments inside the cell and presented by a major histocompatibility complex (MHC).[9] The antigen cannot elicit the immune response without the help of an immunologic adjuvant.[3] Similarly, the adjuvant component of vaccines plays an essential role in the activation of the innate immune system.[10][11]

An immunogen is an antigen substance (or adduct) that is able to trigger a humoral (innate) or cell-mediated immune response.[12] It first initiates an innate immune response, which then causes the activation of the adaptive immune response. An antigen binds the highly variable immunoreceptor products (B cell receptor or T cell receptor) once these have been generated. Immunogens are those antigens, termed immunogenic, capable of inducing an immune response.[13]

At the molecular level, an antigen can be characterized by its ability to bind to an antibody's variable Fab region. Different antibodies have the potential to discriminate among specific epitopes present on the antigen surface. A hapten is a small molecule that changes the structure of an antigenic epitope. In order to induce an immune response, it needs to be attached to a large carrier molecule such as a protein (a complex of peptides). Antigens are usually carried by proteins and polysaccharides, and less frequently, lipids. This includes parts (coats, capsules, cell walls, flagella, fimbriae, and toxins) of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. Lipids and nucleic acids are antigenic only when combined with proteins and polysaccharides. Non-microbial non-self antigens can include pollen, egg white and proteins from transplanted tissues and organs or on the surface of transfused blood cells.

Sources

Antigens can be classified according to their source.

Exogenous antigens

Exogenous antigens are antigens that have entered the body from the outside, for example, by inhalation, ingestion or injection. The immune system's response to exogenous antigens is often subclinical. By endocytosis or phagocytosis, exogenous antigens are taken into the antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and processed into fragments. APCs then present the fragments to T helper cells (CD4+) by the use of class II histocompatibility molecules on their surface. Some T cells are specific for the peptide:MHC complex. They become activated and start to secrete cytokines, substances that activate cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), antibody-secreting B cells, macrophages and other particles.

Some antigens start out as exogenous, and later become endogenous (for example, intracellular viruses). Intracellular antigens can be returned to circulation upon the destruction of the infected cell.

Endogenous antigens

Endogenous antigens are generated within normal cells as a result of normal cell metabolism, or because of viral or intracellular bacterial infection. The fragments are then presented on the cell surface in the complex with MHC class I molecules. If activated cytotoxic CD8+ T cells recognize them, the T cells secrete various toxins that cause the lysis or apoptosis of the infected cell. In order to keep the cytotoxic cells from killing cells just for presenting self-proteins, the cytotoxic cells (self-reactive T cells) are deleted as a result of tolerance (negative selection). Endogenous antigens include xenogenic (heterologous), autologous and idiotypic or allogenic (homologous) antigens. Sometimes antigens are part of the host itself in an autoimmune disease.[14]

Autoantigens

An autoantigen is usually a normal protein or protein complex (and sometimes DNA or RNA) that is recognized by the immune system of patients suffering from a specific autoimmune disease. Under normal conditions, these antigens should not be the target of the immune system, but in autoimmune diseases, their associated T cells are not deleted and instead attack.

Neoantigens

Neoantigens are those that are entirely absent from the normal human genome. As compared with nonmutated self-antigens, neoantigens are of relevance to tumor control, as the quality of the T cell pool that is available for these antigens is not affected by central T cell tolerance. Technology to systematically analyze T cell reactivity against neoantigens became available only recently.[15]

Viral antigens

For virus-associated tumors, such as cervical cancer and a subset of head and neck cancers, epitopes derived from viral open reading frames contribute to the pool of neoantigens.[15]

Tumor antigens

Tumor antigens are those antigens that are presented by MHC class I or MHC class II molecules on the surface of tumor cells. Antigens found only on such cells are called tumor-specific antigens (TSAs) and generally result from a tumor-specific mutation. More common are antigens that are presented by tumor cells and normal cells, called tumor-associated antigens (TAAs). Cytotoxic T lymphocytes that recognize these antigens may be able to destroy tumor cells.[15]

Tumor antigens can appear on the surface of the tumor in the form of, for example, a mutated receptor, in which case they are recognized by B cells.[15]

For human tumors without a viral etiology, novel peptides (neo-epitopes) are created by tumor-specific DNA alterations.[15]

A large fraction of human tumor mutations are effectively patient-specific. Therefore, neoantigens may also be based on individual tumor genomes. Deep-sequencing technologies can identify mutations within the protein-coding part of the genome (the exome) and predict potential neoantigens. In mice models, for all novel protein sequences, potential MHC-binding peptides were predicted. The resulting set of potential neoantigens was used to assess T cell reactivity. Exome–based analyses were exploited in a clinical setting, to assess reactivity in patients treated by either tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) cell therapy or checkpoint blockade. Neoantigen identification was successful for multiple experimental model systems and human malignancies.[15]

The false-negative rate of cancer exome sequencing is low—i.e.: the majority of neoantigens occur within exonic sequence with sufficient coverage. However, the vast majority of mutations within expressed genes do not produce neoantigens that are recognized by autologous T cells.[15]

As of 2015 mass spectrometry resolution is insufficient to exclude many false positives from the pool of peptides that may be presented by MHC molecules. Instead, algorithms are used to identify the most likely candidates. These algorithms consider factors such as the likelihood of proteasomal processing, transport into the endoplasmic reticulum, affinity for the relevant MHC class I alleles and gene expression or protein translation levels.[15]

The majority of human neoantigens identified in unbiased screens display a high predicted MHC binding affinity. Minor histocompatibility antigens, a conceptually similar antigen class are also correctly identified by MHC binding algorithms. Another potential filter examines whether the mutation is expected to improve MHC binding. The nature of the central TCR-exposed residues of MHC-bound peptides is associated with peptide immunogenicity.[15]

Nativity

A native antigen is an antigen that is not yet processed by an APC to smaller parts. T cells cannot bind native antigens, but require that they be processed by APCs, whereas B cells can be activated by native ones.

Antigenic specificity

Antigenic specificity is the ability of the host cells to recognize an antigen specifically as a unique molecular entity and distinguish it from another with exquisite precision. Antigen specificity is due primarily to the side-chain conformations of the antigen. It is measurable and need not be linear or of a rate-limited step or equation.[16]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ K. Abbas, Abul; Lichtman, Andrew; Pillai, Shiv (2018). Cellular and molecular immunology (Ninth ed.). Philadelphia: ELSEVIER. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-323-52324-0.
  2. ^ Male, David K. (2006-01-01). Immunology. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 10. ISBN 9780323033992.
  3. ^ a b Gavin, AL; Hoebe, K; Duong, B; Ota, T; Martin, C; Beutler, B; Nemazee, D (22 December 2006). "Adjuvant-enhanced antibody responses in the absence of toll-like receptor signaling". Science. 314 (5807): 1936–8. doi:10.1126/science.1135299. PMC 1868398. PMID 17185603.
  4. ^ "Antigens - Boundless Anatomy and Physiology". courses.lumenlearning.com.
  5. ^ Gallucci, S; Lolkema, M; Matzinger, P (November 1999). "Natural adjuvants: endogenous activators of dendritic cells". Nature Medicine. 5 (11): 1249–55. doi:10.1038/15200. PMID 10545990.
  6. ^ Strebhardt, Klaus; Ullrich, Axel (Jun 2008). "Paul Ehrlich's magic bullet concept: 100 years of progress". Nature Reviews Cancer. 8 (6): 473–480. doi:10.1038/nrc2394. ISSN 1474-1768. PMID 18469827.
  7. ^ Lindenmann, Jean (1984). "Origin of the Terms 'Antibody' and 'Antigen'". Scand. J. Immunol. 19 (4): 281–5. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3083.1984.tb00931.x. PMID 6374880. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  8. ^ Doolan DL, Southwood S, Freilich DA, Sidney J, Graber NL, Shatney L, Bebris L, Florens L, Dobano C, Witney AA, Appella E, Hoffman SL, Yates JR, Carucci DJ, Sette A (August 2003). "Identification of Plasmodium falciparum antigens by antigenic analysis of genomic and proteomic data". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 100 (17): 9952–7. doi:10.1073/pnas.1633254100. PMC 187898. PMID 12886016.
  9. ^ Parham, Peter. (2009). The Immune System, 3rd Edition, pg. G:2, Garland Science, Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
  10. ^ Janeway CA, Jr (1 November 2013). "Pillars article: approaching the asymptote? Evolution and revolution in immunology. Cold spring harb symp quant biol. 1989. 54: 1–13". Journal of Immunology. 191 (9): 4475–87. PMID 24141854.
  11. ^ Gayed, PM (June 2011). "Toward a modern synthesis of immunity: Charles A. Janeway Jr. and the immunologist's dirty little secret". The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 84 (2): 131–8. ISSN 1551-4056. PMC 3117407. PMID 21698045.
  12. ^ Parham, Peter. (2009). The Immune System, 3rd Edition, pg. G:11, Garland Science, Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
  13. ^ Kuby Immunology (6th ed.). Macmillan. 2006. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-4292-0211-4.
  14. ^ "Antigen". US National Library of Medicine. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i Schumacher, Ton N.; Schreiber, Robert D. (April 3, 2015). "Neoantigens in cancer immunotherapy". Science. 348 (6230): 69–74. doi:10.1126/science.aaa4971. PMID 25838375.
  16. ^ "Antigen specificity – Medical Terms". Steadyhealth.com. 2010-12-17. Archived from the original on 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2012-07-08.

External links

Adaptive immune system

The adaptive immune system, also known as the acquired immune system or, more rarely, as the specific immune system, is a subsystem of the overall immune system that is composed of highly specialized, systemic cells and processes that eliminate pathogens or prevent their growth. The acquired immune system is one of the two main immunity strategies found in vertebrates (the other being the innate immune system). Acquired immunity creates immunological memory after an initial response to a specific pathogen, and leads to an enhanced response to subsequent encounters with that pathogen. This process of acquired immunity is the basis of vaccination. Like the innate system, the acquired system includes both humoral immunity components and cell-mediated immunity components.

The term "adaptive" was first used by Robert Good in reference to antibody responses in frogs as a synonym for "acquired immune response" in 1964. Good acknowledged he used the terms as synonyms but explained only that he "preferred" to use the term "adaptive". He might have been thinking of the then not implausible theory of antibody formation in which antibodies were plastic and could adapt themselves to the molecular shape of antigens, and/or to the concept of "adaptive enzymes" as described by Monod in bacteria, that is, enzymes whose expression could be induced by their substrates. The phrase was used almost exclusively by Good and his students and a few other immunologists working with marginal organisms until the 1990's when it became widely used in tandem with the term "innate immunity" which became a popular subject after the discovery of the Toll receptor system in Drosophila, a previously marginal organism for the study of immunology. The term "adaptive" as used in immunology is problematic as acquired immune responses can be both adaptive and maladaptive in the physiological sense. Indeed, both acquired and innate immune responses can be both adaptive and maladaptive in the evolutionary sense. Most textbooks today, following the early use by Janeway, use "adaptive" almost exclusively and noting in glossaries that the term is synonymous with "acquired".

The classic sense of "acquired immunity" came to mean, since Tonegawas's discovery, "antigen-specific immunity mediated by somatic gene rearrangements that create clone-defining antigen receptors". In the last decade, the term "adaptive" has been increasingly applied to another class of immune response not so-far associated with somatic gene rearrangements. These include expansion of natural killer (NK) cells with so-far unexplained specificity for antigens, expansion of NK cells expressing germ-line encoded receptors, and activation of other innate immune cells to an activated state that confers a short-term "immune memory". In this sense, "adaptive immunity" more closely resembles the concept of "activated state" or "heterostasis", thus returning in sense to the physiological sense of "adaptation" to environmental changes.

Unlike the innate immune system, the acquired immune system is highly specific to a particular pathogen. Acquired immunity can also provide long-lasting protection; for example, someone who recovers from measles is now protected against measles for their lifetime. In other cases it does not provide lifetime protection; for example, chickenpox. The acquired system response destroys invading pathogens and any toxic molecules they produce. Sometimes the acquired system is unable to distinguish harmful from harmless foreign molecules; the effects of this may be hayfever, asthma or any other allergy. Antigens are any substances that elicit the acquired immune response (whether adaptive or maladaptive to the organism).. The cells that carry out the acquired immune response are white blood cells known as lymphocytes. Two main broad classes—antibody responses and cell mediated immune response—are also carried by two different lymphocytes (B cells and T cells). In antibody responses, B cells are activated to secrete antibodies, which are proteins also known as immunoglobulins. Antibodies travel through the bloodstream and bind to the foreign antigen causing it to inactivate, which does not allow the antigen to bind to the host.In acquired immunity, pathogen-specific receptors are "acquired" during the lifetime of the organism (whereas in innate immunity pathogen-specific receptors are already encoded in the germline). The acquired response is called "adaptive" because it prepares the body's immune system for future challenges (though it can actually also be maladaptive when it results in autoimmunity).The system is highly adaptable because of somatic hypermutation (a process of accelerated somatic mutations), and V(D)J recombination (an irreversible genetic recombination of antigen receptor gene segments). This mechanism allows a small number of genes to generate a vast number of different antigen receptors, which are then uniquely expressed on each individual lymphocyte. Since the gene rearrangement leads to an irreversible change in the DNA of each cell, all progeny (offspring) of that cell inherit genes that encode the same receptor specificity, including the memory B cells and memory T cells that are the keys to long-lived specific immunity.

A theoretical framework explaining the workings of the acquired immune system is provided by immune network theory. This theory, which builds on established concepts of clonal selection, is being applied in the search for an HIV vaccine.

Antibody

An antibody (Ab), also known as an immunoglobulin (Ig), is a large, Y-shaped protein produced mainly by plasma cells that is used by the immune system to neutralize pathogens such as pathogenic bacteria and viruses. The antibody recognizes a unique molecule of the pathogen, called an antigen, via the Fab's variable region. Each tip of the "Y" of an antibody contains a paratope (analogous to a lock) that is specific for one particular epitope (similarly, analogous to a key) on an antigen, allowing these two structures to bind together with precision. Using this binding mechanism, an antibody can tag a microbe or an infected cell for attack by other parts of the immune system, or can neutralize its target directly (for example, by inhibiting a part of a microbe that is essential for its invasion and survival). Depending on the antigen, the binding may impede the biological process causing the disease or may activate macrophages to destroy the foreign substance. The ability of an antibody to communicate with the other components of the immune system is mediated via its Fc region (located at the base of the "Y"), which contains a conserved glycosylation site involved in these interactions. The production of antibodies is the main function of the humoral immune system.Antibodies are secreted by B cells of the adaptive immune system, mostly by differentiated B cells called plasma cells. Antibodies can occur in two physical forms, a soluble form that is secreted from the cell to be free in the blood plasma, and a membrane-bound form that is attached to the surface of a B cell and is referred to as the B-cell receptor (BCR). The BCR is found only on the surface of B cells and facilitates the activation of these cells and their subsequent differentiation into either antibody factories called plasma cells or memory B cells that will survive in the body and remember that same antigen so the B cells can respond faster upon future exposure. In most cases, interaction of the B cell with a T helper cell is necessary to produce full activation of the B cell and, therefore, antibody generation following antigen binding. Soluble antibodies are released into the blood and tissue fluids, as well as many secretions to continue to survey for invading microorganisms.

Antibodies are glycoproteins belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily. They constitute most of the gamma globulin fraction of the blood proteins. They are typically made of basic structural units—each with two large heavy chains and two small light chains. There are several different types of antibody heavy chains that define the five different types of crystallisable fragments (Fc) that may be attached to the antigen-binding fragments. The five different types of Fc regions allow antibodies to be grouped into five isotypes. Each Fc region of a particular antibody isotype is able to bind to its specific Fc Receptor (except for IgD, which is essentially the BCR), thus allowing the antigen-antibody complex to mediate different roles depending on which FcR it binds. The ability of an antibody to bind to its corresponding FcR is further modulated by the structure of the glycan(s) present at conserved sites within its Fc region. The ability of antibodies to bind to FcRs helps to direct the appropriate immune response for each different type of foreign object they encounter. For example, IgE is responsible for an allergic response consisting of mast cell degranulation and histamine release. IgE's Fab paratope binds to allergic antigen, for example house dust mite particles, while its Fc region binds to Fc receptor ε. The allergen-IgE-FcRε interaction mediates allergic signal transduction to induce conditions such as asthma.Though the general structure of all antibodies is very similar, a small region at the tip of the protein is extremely variable, allowing millions of antibodies with slightly different tip structures, or antigen-binding sites, to exist. This region is known as the hypervariable region. Each of these variants can bind to a different antigen. This enormous diversity of antibody paratopes on the antigen-binding fragments allows the immune system to recognize an equally wide variety of antigens. The large and diverse population of antibody paratope is generated by random recombination events of a set of gene segments that encode different antigen-binding sites (or paratopes), followed by random mutations in this area of the antibody gene, which create further diversity. This recombinational process that produces clonal antibody paratope diversity is called V(D)J or VJ recombination. Basically, the antibody paratope is polygenic, made up of three genes, V, D, and J. Each paratope locus is also polymorphic, such that during antibody production, one allele of V, one of D, and one of J is chosen. These gene segments are then joined together using random genetic recombination to produce the paratope. The regions where the genes are randomly recombined together is the hyper variable region used to recognise different antigens on a clonal basis.

Antibody genes also re-organize in a process called class switching that changes the one type of heavy chain Fc fragment to another, creating a different isotype of the antibody that retains the antigen-specific variable region. This allows a single antibody to be used by different types of Fc receptors, expressed on different parts of the immune system.

Antigen-presenting cell

An antigen-presenting cell (APC) or accessory cell is a cell that displays antigen complexed with major histocompatibility complexes (MHCs) on their surfaces; this process is known as antigen presentation. T cells may recognize these complexes using their T cell receptors (TCRs). These cells process antigens and present them to T-cells.

Almost all cell types can present antigen in some way. They are found in a variety of tissue types. Professional antigen-presenting cells, including macrophages, B cells and dendritic cells, present foreign antigens to helper T cells, while other cell types can present antigens originating inside the cell to cytotoxic T cells. In addition to the MHC family of proteins, antigen presentation relies on other specialized signaling molecules on the surfaces of both APCs and T cells.

Antigen-presenting cells are vital for effective adaptive immune response, as the functioning of both cytotoxic and helper T cells is dependent on APCs. Antigen presentation allows for specificity of adaptive immunity and can contribute to immune responses against both intracellular and extracellular pathogens. It is also involved in defense against tumors. Some cancer therapies involve the creation of artificial APCs to prime the adaptive immune system to target malignant cells.

B cell

B cells, also known as B lymphocytes, are a type of white blood cell of the lymphocyte subtype. They function in the humoral immunity component of the adaptive immune system by secreting antibodies. Additionally, B cells present antigen (they are also classified as professional antigen-presenting cells (APCs)) and secrete cytokines.

In mammals, B cells mature in the bone marrow, which is at the core of most bones. In birds, B cells mature in the bursa of Fabricius, a lymphoid organ. (The "B" from B cells comes from the name of this organ, where it was first discovered by Chang and Glick, and not from bone marrow as commonly believed).

B cells, unlike the other two classes of lymphocytes, T cells and natural killer cells, express B cell receptors (BCRs) on their cell membrane. BCRs allow the B cell to bind to a specific antigen, against which it will initiate an antibody response.

Blood type

A blood type (also called a blood group) is a classification of blood, based on the presence and absence of antibodies and inherited antigenic substances on the surface of red blood cells (RBCs). These antigens may be proteins, carbohydrates, glycoproteins, or glycolipids, depending on the blood group system. Some of these antigens are also present on the surface of other types of cells of various tissues. Several of these red blood cell surface antigens can stem from one allele (or an alternative version of a gene) and collectively form a blood group system. Blood types are inherited and represent contributions from both parents. A total of 36 human blood group systems and 346 antigens are now recognized by the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT). The two most important ones are ABO and the Rh blood group systems; they determine someone's blood type (A, B, AB and O, with +, − or null denoting RhD status) for suitability in blood transfusion.

Carcinoembryonic antigen

Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) describes a set of highly related glycoproteins involved in cell adhesion. CEA is normally produced in gastrointestinal tissue during fetal development, but the production stops before birth. Consequently, CEA is usually present at very low levels in the blood of healthy adults (about 20 ng/mL). However, the serum levels are raised in some types of cancer, which means that it can be used as a tumor marker in clinical tests. Serum levels can also be elevated in heavy smokers.CEA are glycosyl phosphatidyl inositol (GPI) cell-surface-anchored glycoproteins whose specialized sialofucosylated glycoforms serve as functional colon carcinoma L-selectin and E-selectin ligands, which may be critical to the metastatic dissemination of colon carcinoma cells. Immunologically they are characterized as members of the CD66 cluster of differentiation. The proteins include CD66a, CD66b, CD66c, CD66d, CD66e, CD66f.

Cytotoxic T cell

A cytotoxic T cell (also known as TC, cytotoxic T lymphocyte, CTL, T-killer cell, cytolytic T cell, CD8+ T-cell or killer T cell) is a T lymphocyte (a type of white blood cell) that kills cancer cells, cells that are infected (particularly with viruses), or cells that are damaged in other ways.

Most cytotoxic T cells express T-cell receptors (TCRs) that can recognize a specific antigen. An antigen is a molecule capable of stimulating an immune response, and is often produced by cancer cells or viruses. Antigens inside a cell are bound to class I MHC molecules, and brought to the surface of the cell by the class I MHC molecule, where they can be recognized by the T cell. If the TCR is specific for that antigen, it binds to the complex of the class I MHC molecule and the antigen, and the T cell destroys the cell.

In order for the TCR to bind to the class I MHC molecule, the former must be accompanied by a glycoprotein called CD8, which binds to the constant portion of the class I MHC molecule. Therefore, these T cells are called CD8+ T cells.

The affinity between CD8 and the MHC molecule keeps the TC cell and the target cell bound closely together during antigen-specific activation. CD8+ T cells are recognized as TC cells once they become activated and are generally classified as having a pre-defined cytotoxic role within the immune system. However, CD8+ T cells also have the ability to make some cytokines.

Duffy antigen system

Duffy antigen/chemokine receptor (DARC), also known as Fy glycoprotein (FY) or CD234 (Cluster of Differentiation 234), is a protein that in humans is encoded by the DARC gene.The Duffy antigen is located on the surface of red blood cells, and is named after the patient in which it was discovered. The protein encoded by this gene is a glycosylated membrane protein and a non-specific receptor for several chemokines. The protein is also the receptor for the human malarial parasites Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium knowlesi and simian malarial parasite Plasmodium cynomolgi. Polymorphisms in this gene are the basis of the Duffy blood group system.

ELISA

The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (, ) is a commonly used analytical biochemistry assay, first described by Weiland in 1978. The assay uses a solid-phase enzyme immunoassay (EIA) to detect the presence of a ligand (commonly a protein) in a liquid sample using antibodies directed against the protein to be measured. The ELISA has been used as a diagnostic tool in medicine, plant pathology, and biotechnology, as well as a quality control check in various industries.In the most simple form of an ELISA, antigens from the sample are attached to a surface. Then, a matching antibody is applied over the surface so it can bind to the antigen. This antibody is linked to an enzyme, and in the final step, a substance containing the enzyme's substrate is added. The subsequent reaction produces a detectable signal, most commonly a color change in the substrate.

Performing an ELISA involves at least one antibody with specificity for a particular antigen. The sample with an unknown amount of antigen is immobilized on a solid support (usually a polystyrene microtiter plate) either non-specifically (via adsorption to the surface) or specifically (via capture by another antibody specific to the same antigen, in a "sandwich" ELISA). After the antigen is immobilized, the detection antibody is added, forming a complex with the antigen. The detection antibody can be covalently linked to an enzyme or can itself be detected by a secondary antibody that is linked to an enzyme through bioconjugation. Between each step, the plate is typically washed with a mild detergent solution to remove any proteins or antibodies that are non-specifically bound. After the final wash step, the plate is developed by adding an enzymatic substrate to produce a visible signal, which indicates the quantity of antigen in the sample.

Of note, ELISA can perform other forms of ligand binding assays instead of strictly "immuno" assays, though the name carried the original "immuno" because of the common use and history of development of this method. The technique essentially requires any ligating reagent that can be immobilized on the solid phase along with a detection reagent that will bind specifically and use an enzyme to generate a signal that can be properly quantified. In between the washes, only the ligand and its specific binding counterparts remain specifically bound or "immunosorbed" by antigen-antibody interactions to the solid phase, while the nonspecific or unbound components are washed away. Unlike other spectrophotometric wet lab assay formats where the same reaction well (e.g., a cuvette) can be reused after washing, the ELISA plates have the reaction products immunosorbed on the solid phase, which is part of the plate, and so are not easily reusable.

Fas ligand

Fas ligand (FasL or CD95L) is a type-II transmembrane protein that belongs to the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family. Its binding with its receptor induces apoptosis. Fas ligand/receptor interactions play an important role in the regulation of the immune system and the progression of cancer.

Glycophorin C

Glycophorin C (GYPC; CD236/CD236R; glycoprotein beta; glycoconnectin; PAS-2') plays a functionally important role in maintaining erythrocyte shape and regulating membrane material properties, possibly through its interaction with protein 4.1. Moreover, it has previously been shown that membranes deficient in protein 4.1 exhibit decreased content of glycophorin C. It is also an integral membrane protein of the erythrocyte and acts as the receptor for the Plasmodium falciparum protein PfEBP-2 (erythrocyte binding protein 2; baebl; EBA-140).

Human leukocyte antigen

The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system or complex is a gene complex encoding the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins in humans. These cell-surface proteins are responsible for the regulation of the immune system in humans. The HLA gene complex resides on a 3 Mbp stretch within chromosome 6p21. HLA genes are highly polymorphic, which means that they have many different alleles, allowing them to fine-tune the adaptive immune system. The proteins encoded by certain genes are also known as antigens, as a result of their historic discovery as factors in organ transplants. Different classes have different functions:

HLAs corresponding to MHC class I (A, B, and C) present peptides from inside the cell. For example, if the cell is infected by a virus, the HLA system brings fragments of the virus to the surface of the cell so that the cell can be destroyed by the immune system. These peptides are produced from digested proteins that are broken down in the proteasomes. In general, these particular peptides are small polymers, about 9 amino acids in length. Foreign antigens presented by MHC class I attract killer T-cells (also called CD8 positive- or cytotoxic T-cells) that destroy cells. MHC class I proteins associate with β2-microglobulin, which unlike the HLA proteins is encoded by a gene on chromosome 15.

HLAs corresponding to MHC class II (DP, DM, DO, DQ, and DR) present antigens from outside of the cell to T-lymphocytes. These particular antigens stimulate the multiplication of T-helper cells (also called CD4 positive T cells), which in turn stimulate antibody-producing B-cells to produce antibodies to that specific antigen. Self-antigens are suppressed by regulatory T cells.

HLAs corresponding to MHC class III encode components of the complement system.

HLAs have other roles. They are important in disease defense. They are the major cause of organ transplant rejections. They may protect against or fail to protect (if down-regulated by an infection) against cancers. Mutations in HLA may be linked to autoimmune disease (examples: type I diabetes, coeliac disease). HLA may also be related to people's perception of the odor of other people, and may be involved in mate selection, as at least one study found a lower-than-expected rate of HLA similarity between spouses in an isolated community.Aside from the genes encoding the 6 major antigen-presenting proteins, there are a large number of other genes, many involved in immune function, located on the HLA complex. Diversity of HLAs in the human population is one aspect of disease defense, and, as a result, the chance of two unrelated individuals with identical HLA molecules on all loci is extremely low. HLA genes have historically been identified as a result of the ability to successfully transplant organs between HLA-similar individuals.

Kell antigen system

The Kell antigen system (also known as Kell–Cellano system) is a group of antigens on the human red blood cell surface which are important determinants of blood type and are targets for autoimmune or alloimmune diseases which destroy red blood cells. Kell can be noted as K, k, or Kp. The Kell antigens are peptides found within the Kell protein, a 93-kilodalton transmembrane zinc-dependent endopeptidase which is responsible for cleaving endothelin-3.

Major histocompatibility complex

The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is a set of cell surface proteins essential for the acquired immune system to recognize foreign molecules in vertebrates, which in turn determines histocompatibility. The main function of MHC molecules is to bind to antigens derived from pathogens and display them on the cell surface for recognition by the appropriate T-cells. MHC molecules mediate interactions of leukocytes, also called white blood cells (WBCs), which are immune cells, with other leukocytes or with body cells. The MHC determines compatibility of donors for organ transplant, as well as one's susceptibility to an autoimmune disease via crossreacting immunization. The human MHC is also called the HLA (human leukocyte antigen) complex (often just the HLA). The MHC in mice is called the H-2 complex or H-2.

In a cell, protein molecules of the host's own phenotype or of other biologic entities are continually synthesized and degraded. Each MHC molecule on the cell surface displays a molecular fraction of a protein, called an epitope. The presented antigen can be either self or non-self, thus preventing an organism's immune system targeting its own cells. In its entirety, the MHC population is like a meter indicating the balance of proteins within the cell.

The MHC gene family is divided into three subgroups: class I, class II, and class III. Class I MHC molecules have β2 subunits which can only be recognised by CD8 co-receptors. Class II MHC molecules have β1 and β2 subunits and can be recognised by CD4 co-receptors. In this way MHC molecules chaperone which type of lymphocytes may bind to the given antigen with high affinity, since different lymphocytes express different T-Cell Receptor (TCR) co-receptors.

Diversity of antigen presentation, mediated by MHC classes I and II, is attained in at least three ways: (1) an organism's MHC repertoire is polygenic (via multiple, interacting genes); (2) MHC expression is codominant (from both sets of inherited alleles); (3) MHC gene variants are highly polymorphic (diversely varying from organism to organism within a species). Major histocompatibility complex and sexual selection has been observed in male mice making mate choices of females with different MHCs and thus demonstrating sexual selection. Also, at least for MHC I presentation, there has been evidence of antigenic peptide splicing which can combine peptides from different proteins, vastly increasing antigen diversity.

Neprilysin

Neprilysin (), also known as membrane metallo-endopeptidase (MME), neutral endopeptidase (NEP), cluster of differentiation 10 (CD10), and common acute lymphoblastic leukemia antigen (CALLA) is an enzyme that in humans is encoded by the MME gene. Neprilysin is a zinc-dependent metalloprotease that cleaves peptides at the amino side of hydrophobic residues and inactivates several peptide hormones including glucagon, enkephalins, substance P, neurotensin, oxytocin, and bradykinin. It also degrades the amyloid beta peptide whose abnormal misfolding and aggregation in neural tissue has been implicated as a cause of Alzheimer's disease. Synthesized as a membrane-bound protein, the neprilysin ectodomain is released into the extracellular domain after it has been transported from the Golgi apparatus to the cell surface.

Neprilysin is expressed in a wide variety of tissues and is particularly abundant in kidney. It is also a common acute lymphocytic leukemia antigen that is an important cell surface marker in the diagnosis of human acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). This protein is present on leukemic cells of pre-B phenotype, which represent 85% of cases of ALL.Hematopoetic progenitors expressing CD10 are considered "common lymphoid progenitors", which means they can differentiate into T, B or natural killer cells. CD10 is of use in hematological diagnosis since it is expressed by early B, pro-B and pre-B lymphocytes, and by lymph node germinal centers. Hematologic diseases in which it is positive include ALL, angioimmunoblastic T cell lymphoma, Burkitt lymphoma, chronic myelogenous leukemia in blast crisis (90%), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (variable), follicular center cells (70%), hairy cell leukemia (10%), and myeloma (some). It tends to be negative in acute myeloid leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, mantle cell lymphoma, and marginal zone lymphoma. CD10 is found on non-T ALL cells, which derive from pre-B lymphocytes, and in germinal center-related non-Hodgkin lymphoma such as Burkitt lymphoma and follicular lymphoma, but not on leukemia cells or lymphomas, which originate in more mature B cells.

PTPRC

Protein tyrosine phosphatase, receptor type, C also known as PTPRC is an enzyme that, in humans, is encoded by the PTPRC gene. PTPRC is also known as CD45 antigen (CD stands for cluster of differentiation), which was originally called leukocyte common antigen (LCA).

Prostate-specific antigen

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA), also known as gamma-seminoprotein or kallikrein-3 (KLK3), is a glycoprotein enzyme encoded in humans by the KLK3 gene. PSA is a member of the kallikrein-related peptidase family and is secreted by the epithelial cells of the prostate gland. PSA is produced for the ejaculate, where it liquefies semen in the seminal coagulum and allows sperm to swim freely. It is also believed to be instrumental in dissolving cervical mucus, allowing the entry of sperm into the uterus.PSA is present in small quantities in the serum of men with healthy prostates, but is often elevated in the presence of prostate cancer or other prostate disorders. PSA is not a unique indicator of prostate cancer, but may also detect prostatitis or benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Rh blood group system

The Rh blood group system is one of thirty-five known human blood group systems. It is the second most important blood group system, after the ABO blood group system. The Rh blood group system consists of 49 defined blood group antigens, among which the five antigens D, C, c, E, and e are the most important. There is no d ("little d") antigen. Rh(D) status of an individual is normally described with a positive or negative suffix after the ABO type (e.g., someone who is A Positive has the A antigen and the Rh(D) antigen, whereas someone who is A Negative lacks the Rh(D) antigen). The terms Rh factor, Rh positive, and Rh negative refer to the Rh(D) antigen only. Antibodies to Rh antigens can be involved in hemolytic transfusion reactions and antibodies to the Rh(D) and Rh(c) antigens confer significant risk of hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn.

The term "Rh" was originally an abbreviation of "Rhesus factor." It was discovered in 1937 by Karl Landsteiner and Alexander S. Wiener, who, at the time, believed it to be a similar antigen found in rhesus monkey red blood cells. It was subsequently learned the human factor is not identical to the rhesus monkey factor, but by then, "Rhesus Group" and like terms were already in widespread, worldwide use. Thus, notwithstanding it is a misnomer, the term survives (e.g., rhesus blood group system and the obsolete terms rhesus factor, rhesus positive, and rhesus negative - all three of which actually refer specifically and only to the Rh D factor and are thus misleading when unmodified. Contemporary practice is to use "Rh" as a term of art instead of "Rhesus" (e.g., "Rh Group," "Rh factors," "Rh D," etc.).

T-cell receptor

The T-cell receptor, or TCR, is a molecule found on the surface of T cells, or T lymphocytes, that is responsible for recognizing fragments of antigen as peptides bound to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. The binding between TCR and antigen peptides is of relatively low affinity and is degenerate: that is, many TCRs recognize the same antigen peptide and many antigen peptides are recognized by the same TCR.The TCR is composed of two different protein chains (that is, it is a heterodimer). In humans, in 95% of T cells the TCR consists of an alpha (α) chain and a beta (β) chain (encoded by TRA and TRB, respectively), whereas in 5% of T cells the TCR consists of gamma and delta (γ/δ) chains (encoded by TRG and TRD, respectively). This ratio changes during ontogeny and in diseased states (such as leukemia). It also differs between species. Orthologues of the 4 loci have been mapped in various species. Each locus can produce a variety of polypeptides with constant and variable regions.When the TCR engages with antigenic peptide and MHC (peptide/MHC), the T lymphocyte is activated through signal transduction, that is, a series of biochemical events mediated by associated enzymes, co-receptors, specialized adaptor molecules, and activated or released transcription factors.

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