Neonatal Fc receptor

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Fc fragment of IgG, receptor, transporter, alpha
Identifiers
SymbolFCGRT
NCBI gene2217
HGNC3621
OMIM601437
RefSeqNM_004107
UniProtP55899
Other data
LocusChr. 19 q13.3

The neonatal Fc receptor (also FcRn, IgG receptor FcRn large subunit p51, or Brambell receptor) is a protein that in humans is encoded by the FCGRT gene.[1][2][3] It is an Fc receptor which is similar in structure to the MHC class I molecule and also associates with beta-2-microglobulin.[4][5] In rodents, FcRn was originally identified as the receptor that transports maternal immunoglobulin G (IgG) from mother to neonatal offspring via mother's milk, leading to its name as the neonatal Fc receptor.[6][7] In humans, FcRn is present in the placenta where it transports mother's IgG to the growing fetus.[1][8] FcRn has also been shown to play a role in regulating IgG and serum albumin turnover.[9][10][11][12][13] Neonatal Fc receptor expression is up-regulated by the proinflammatory cytokine, TNF-α, and down-regulated by IFN-γ.[14]

Interactions with IgG and serum albumin[edit]

In addition to binding to IgG, FCGRT has been shown to interact with Human serum albumin.[10][15] FcRn-mediated transcytosis of IgG across epithelial cells is possible because FcRn binds IgG at acidic pH (<6.5) but not at neutral or higher pH.[6][7][16] Therefore, FcRn can bind IgG from the slightly acidic intestinal lumen and ensure efficient, unidirectional transport to the basolateral side where the pH is neutral to slightly basic.[16]

Recycling of IgG and serum albumin[edit]

FcRn extends the half-life of IgG and serum albumin by reducing lysosomal degradation in endothelial cells[17] and bone-marrow derived cells.[18][19][20] The clearance rate of IgG and albumin is abnormally short in mice that lack functional FcRn.[9][10] IgG, serum albumin and other serum proteins are continuously internalized through pinocytosis. Generally, serum proteins are transported from the endosomes to the lysosome, where they are degraded. Following entry into cells, the two most abundant serum proteins, IgG and serum albumin, are bound by FcRn at the slightly acidic pH (<6.5) within early (sorting) endosomes, sorted and recycled to the cell surface where they are released at the neutral pH (>7.0) of the extracellular environment.[21][22][23] In this way, IgG and serum albumin are salvaged to avoid lysosomal degradation.[21][22][24] This cellular mechanism provides an explanation for the prolonged in vivo half-lives of IgG and serum albumin.[12][13][21]

Role in various organs[edit]

FcRn is expressed on antigen-presenting leukocytes like dendritic cells and is also expressed in neutrophils to help clear opsonized bacteria.[14] In the kidneys, FcRn is expressed on epithelial cells called podocytes to prevent IgG and albumin from clogging the glomerular filtration barrier.[25][26] Current studies are investigating FcRn in the liver because there are relatively low concentrations of both IgG and albumin in liver bile despite high concentrations in the blood.[27][28] Studies have shown that FcRn-mediated transcytosis is involved with the trafficking of the HIV-1 virus across genital tract epithelium.[29]

Half-life extension of therapeutic proteins[edit]

The engineering of IgG-FcRn interactions to increase in vivo persistence of IgG has been demonstrated.[11][30] For example, the half-life extended complement C5-specific antibody, Ultomiris (ravulizumab), has recently been approved for the treatment of autoimmunity[31] and half-life extended antibody cocktails with 'YTE' mutations[32] are in late stage clinical trials to treat SARS-CoV2 (https://newatlas.com/health-wellbeing/astrazeneca-antibody-coronavirus-phase3-trial-results/). Engineering of albumin-FcRn interactions has also generated albumin variants with increased in vivo half-lives.[33] It has also been shown that conjugation of some drugs to the Fc region of IgG or serum albumin to generate fusion proteins significantly increases their half-life.[34][35][36]

There are several drugs on the market that have Fc portions fused to the effector proteins in order to increase their half-lives through FcRn-mediated recycling. They include: Amevive (alefacept), Arcalyst (rilonacept), Enbrel (etanercept), Nplate (romiplostim), Orencia (abatacept) and Nulojix (belatacept).[36] Enbrel (etanercept) was the first successful IgG Fc-linked soluble receptor therapeutic and works by binding and neutralizing the pro-inflammatory cytokine, TNF-α.[36][37]

Therapeutic potential[edit]

Several autoimmune disorders are caused by the binding of IgG to self antigens. Since FcRn extends IgG half-life in the circulation, it can also confer long half-lives on these pathogenic antibodies and promote autoimmune disease.[38][39][40] Therapies seek to disrupt the IgG-FcRn interaction to increase the clearance of disease-causing IgG autoantibodies from the body.[30] One such therapy is the infusion of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) to saturate FcRn's IgG recycling capacity and proportionately reduce the levels of disease-causing IgG autoantibody binding to FcRn, thereby increasing disease-causing IgG autoantibody removal.[39][41][42] More recent approaches involve the strategy of blocking the binding of IgG to FcRn by injecting antibodies that bind with high affinity to this receptor through their Fc region[43][40][44] or variable regions.[45][46][47] These engineered Fc fragments or antibodies are currently being used in clinical trials as treatments for antibody-mediated autoimmune diseases such as primary immune thrombocytopenia and myasthenia gravis.[48][49][50] FDA approval is anticipated for the treatment of myasthenia gravis in late 2021 (https://www.argenx.com/).

References[edit]

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