Thermal sensitivity and flexibility of the Cε3 domains in immunoglobulin E

Katy A. Doré, Anna M. Davies, Nyssa Drinkwater, Andrew J. Beavil, James M McDonnell, Brian J Sutton

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is the antibody that plays a central role in the mechanisms of allergic diseases such as asthma. Interactions with its receptors, FcεRI on mast cells and CD23 on B cells, are mediated by the Fc region, a dimer of the Cε2, Cε3 and Cε4 domains. A sub-fragment lacking the Cε2 domains, Fcε3–4, also binds to both receptors, although receptor binding almost exclusively involves the Cε3 domains. This domain also contains the N-linked glycosylation site conserved in other isotypes. We report here the crystal structures of IgE-Fc and Fcε3–4 at the highest resolutions yet determined, 1.75 Å and 2.0 Å respectively, revealing unprecedented detail regarding the carbohydrate and its interactions with protein domains. Analysis of the crystallographic B-factors of these, together with all earlier IgE-Fc and Fcε3–4 structures, shows that the Cε3 domains exhibit the greatest intrinsic flexibility and quaternary structural variation within IgE-Fc. Intriguingly, both well-ordered carbohydrate and disordered polypeptide can be seen within the same Cε3 domain. A simplified method for comparing the quaternary structures of the Cε3 domains in free and receptor-bound IgE-Fc structures is presented, which clearly delineates the FcεRI and CD23 bound states. Importantly, differential scanning fluorimetric analysis of IgE-Fc and Fcε3–4 identifies Cε3 as the domain most susceptible to thermally-induced unfolding, and responsible for the characteristically low melting temperature of IgE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1336-1347
Number of pages12
JournalBBA Proteins and Proteomics
Issue number11, Part A
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Antibody
  • Differential scanning fluorimetry
  • Domain flexibility
  • Glycosylation
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Thermal unfolding

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