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Gene Review

PIGR  -  polymeric immunoglobulin receptor

Canis lupus familiaris

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Disease relevance of PIGR

  • We used polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR-/-) knock-out mice, which are unable to bind and actively transport dimeric IgA and pentameric IgM to the mucosae, and examined the role of innate SAbs in protection against the invasive pathogen Salmonella typhimurium [1].
  • In a previous work (Ikonen et al., 1993), we implied the existence of a dendro-axonal transcytotic pathway for the rabbit pIgR expressed in hippocampal neurons via the Semliki Forest Virus (SFV) expression system [2].
  • The cytoplasmic and transmembrane domains of the pIgR, when joined to the external domain of the influenza virus hemagglutinin, retained the capacity to mediate rapid internalization [3].
  • Because efficient transport of EBV immune complexes might avert an infectious outcome, we modulated the transcytotic pathway in polarized Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells transfected with pIgR to determine the effect on viral antigen expression [4].

High impact information on PIGR

  • Several signals have been identified recently that control these sorting events, namely a glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol anchor for apical targeting, a 14-residue cytoplasmic segment of the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor for basolateral targeting, and phosphorylation of a Ser residue for transcytosis of this receptor [5].
  • In vitro experiments suggested that innate IgA in pIgR-/- serum bound S. typhimurium in a cross-reactive manner which inhibited epithelial cell invasion [1].
  • Using a panel of human IgA1/IgG1 constant region "domain swap" mutants, the binding site for the pIgR on dimeric IgA (dIgA) was localized to the Calpha3 domain [6].
  • Alanine substitution of two groups of amino acids in this area abrogated the binding of dIgA to pIgR, whereas adjacent substitutions in a beta-strand immediately NH2-terminal to this loop had no effect [6].
  • The polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR) transcytoses polymeric IgA (pIgA) from the basolateral to the apical surface of epithelial cells and hepatocytes [7].

Biological context of PIGR

  • In this study we examine the difference in expression of mRNA transcripts for pIgR, alpha-chain and J-chain by real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in endoscopic biopsies from the duodenum of dogs with and without chronic diarrhoea [8].
  • Selection of random peptides for pIgR binding and comparison with the IgA sequence suggested amino acids 402-410 (QEPSQGTTT), in a predicted exposed loop of the Calpha3 domain, as a potential binding site [6].
  • Several factors could explain this, such as proteolytic cleavage of the pIg-R at the apical surface, decreased apical endocytosis of ligand, or an intracellular sorting event [9].
  • Our data suggest that ligand-induced signaling by the pIgR may regulate membrane traffic via well-known second messenger pathways involving PKC, IP3, and Ca [10].
  • Signal transduction by the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor suggests a role in regulation of receptor transcytosis [10].

Anatomical context of PIGR


Associations of PIGR with chemical compounds

  • Artificially activating PKC with phorbol myristate acetate or poisoning the calcium pump with thapsigargin stimulates transcytosis of pIgR, while the intracellular Ca chelator BAPTA-AM inhibits transcytosis [10].
  • A mutant pIgR in which serines 664 and 726, the major sites of phosphorylation, are replaced by alanine is stimulated to transcytose by PMA, suggesting that phosphorylation of pIgR at these sites is not required for the effect of PMA [15].
  • In this report, we show that the protease inhibitor, leupeptin, inhibits the cleavage of the pIg-R but does not alter the unidirectionality of transcytosis [9].
  • We report that dIgA binding to the pIgR causes activation of protein kinase C (PKC) and release of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) [10].
  • Using the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor expressed in polarized MDCK cells, we have examined the effects of nocodazole, a microtubule-disrupting agent, on three pathways that deliver proteins to the apical surface and two pathways that deliver proteins to the basolateral surface [16].

Analytical, diagnostic and therapeutic context of PIGR

  • One-step, real-time RT-PCR was used to quantify the level of expression of transcripts for the housekeeper gene G3PDH, pIgR, alpha-chain and J-chain [8].
  • To test this hypothesis, Tyr668 and Tyr734 were mutated singly or together by oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis of pIgR cDNA, and the mutants were expressed in MDCK cells [3].
  • Only one cell culture model of transcytosis has been used extensively, the transport of IgA from the basolateral to the apical surface of Madin-Darby canine kidney cells by the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR) [17].
  • Polarized monolayers of Madin-Darby canine kidney epithelial cells expressing the pIgR were infected on their apical surfaces with influenza virus A/Puerto Rico/8-Mount Sinai. Polymeric IgA anti-HA, but not IgG anti-HA, delivered to the basolateral surface colocalized with HA protein within the cell by immunofluorescence [18].
  • Furthermore, pIgA-L was not transferred into rat bile after intravenous injection, and was hardly transported apically by polarized Madin-Darbey canine kidney cell monolayers expressing the human pIgR, whereas pIgA-G and pIgA-C were efficiently transported in both test systems [19].


  1. Innate secretory antibodies protect against natural Salmonella typhimurium infection. Wijburg, O.L., Uren, T.K., Simpfendorfer, K., Johansen, F.E., Brandtzaeg, P., Strugnell, R.A. J. Exp. Med. (2006) [Pubmed]
  2. Intracellular routing of wild-type and mutated polymeric immunoglobulin receptor in hippocampal neurons in culture. de Hoop, M., von Poser, C., Lange, C., Ikonen, E., Hunziker, W., Dotti, C.G. J. Cell Biol. (1995) [Pubmed]
  3. The cytoplasmic domain of the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor contains two internalization signals that are distinct from its basolateral sorting signal. Okamoto, C.T., Shia, S.P., Bird, C., Mostov, K.E., Roth, M.G. J. Biol. Chem. (1992) [Pubmed]
  4. Epithelial cell polarization is a determinant in the infectious outcome of immunoglobulin A-mediated entry by Epstein-Barr virus. Gan, Y.J., Chodosh, J., Morgan, A., Sixbey, J.W. J. Virol. (1997) [Pubmed]
  5. Sorting of plasma membrane proteins in epithelial cells. Bomsel, M., Mostov, K. Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. (1991) [Pubmed]
  6. A human immunoglobulin (Ig)A calpha3 domain motif directs polymeric Ig receptor-mediated secretion. Hexham, J.M., White, K.D., Carayannopoulos, L.N., Mandecki, W., Brisette, R., Yang, Y.S., Capra, J.D. J. Exp. Med. (1999) [Pubmed]
  7. The mammalian retromer regulates transcytosis of the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor. Vergés, M., Luton, F., Gruber, C., Tiemann, F., Reinders, L.G., Huang, L., Burlingame, A.L., Haft, C.R., Mostov, K.E. Nat. Cell Biol. (2004) [Pubmed]
  8. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR measurement of mRNA encoding alpha-chain, pIgR and J-chain from canine duodenal mucosa. Peters, I.R., Helps, C.R., Batt, R.M., Day, M.J., Hall, E.J. J. Immunol. Methods (2003) [Pubmed]
  9. Postendocytotic sorting of the ligand for the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. Breitfeld, P.P., Harris, J.M., Mostov, K.E. J. Cell Biol. (1989) [Pubmed]
  10. Signal transduction by the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor suggests a role in regulation of receptor transcytosis. Cardone, M.H., Smith, B.L., Mennitt, P.A., Mochly-Rosen, D., Silver, R.B., Mostov, K.E. J. Cell Biol. (1996) [Pubmed]
  11. Receptor-mediated transcytosis of IgA in MDCK cells is via apical recycling endosomes. Apodaca, G., Katz, L.A., Mostov, K.E. J. Cell Biol. (1994) [Pubmed]
  12. The polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (secretory component) mediates transport of immune complexes across epithelial cells: a local defense function for IgA. Kaetzel, C.S., Robinson, J.K., Chintalacharuvu, K.R., Vaerman, J.P., Lamm, M.E. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1991) [Pubmed]
  13. Brefeldin-A inhibits the delivery of the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor to the basolateral surface of MDCK cells. Apodaca, G., Aroeti, B., Tang, K., Mostov, K.E. J. Biol. Chem. (1993) [Pubmed]
  14. Sorting of membrane and fluid at the apical pole of polarized Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. Leung, S.M., Ruiz, W.G., Apodaca, G. Mol. Biol. Cell (2000) [Pubmed]
  15. Phorbol myristate acetate-mediated stimulation of transcytosis and apical recycling in MDCK cells. Cardone, M.H., Smith, B.L., Song, W., Mochly-Rosen, D., Mostov, K.E. J. Cell Biol. (1994) [Pubmed]
  16. Effect of nocodazole on vesicular traffic to the apical and basolateral surfaces of polarized MDCK cells. Breitfeld, P.P., McKinnon, W.C., Mostov, K.E. J. Cell Biol. (1990) [Pubmed]
  17. Bidirectional transcytosis of IgG by the rat neonatal Fc receptor expressed in a rat kidney cell line: a system to study protein transport across epithelia. McCarthy, K.M., Yoong, Y., Simister, N.E. J. Cell. Sci. (2000) [Pubmed]
  18. Intracellular neutralization of influenza virus by immunoglobulin A anti-hemagglutinin monoclonal antibodies. Mazanec, M.B., Coudret, C.L., Fletcher, D.R. J. Virol. (1995) [Pubmed]
  19. Lack of SC/pIgR-mediated epithelial transport of a human polymeric IgA devoid of J chain: in vitro and in vivo studies. Vaerman, J.P., Langendries, A., Giffroy, D., Brandtzaeg, P., Kobayashi, K. Immunology (1998) [Pubmed]
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