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Chapter: Medical Immunology: Immunoglobulin Structure

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The Immunoglobulin Superfamily of Proteins

The existence of globular “domains” (Fig. 5.8) is considered as the structural hallmark of immunoglobulin structure.

THE IMMUNOGLOBULIN SUPERFAMILY OF PROTEINS

The existence of globular “domains” (Fig. 5.8) is considered as the structural hallmark of immunoglobulin structure. A variety of other proteins that exhibit amino acid sequence ho-mology with immunoglobulins also contain Ig-like domains (Fig. 5.9).

 


 

 Such proteins are considered as members of the immunoglobulin superfamily, based on the assumption that the genes that encode them must have evolved from a common ancestor gene coding for a single domain, much like the gene coding for the Thy-1 molecule found on murine lym-phocytes and brain cells.


The majority of the membrane proteins of the immunoglobulin superfamily seem to be functionally involved in recognition of specific ligands, which may determine cell-cell contact phenomena and/or cell activation. The T-cell antigen receptor molecule, the major histocompatibility antigens, the polyimmunoglobulin receptor on mucosal cells (see be-low), and the CD2 molecule on T lymphocytes are a few exam-ples of proteins included in the immunoglobulin superfamily.


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