The structure of a LAIR1-containing human antibody reveals a novel mechanism of antigen recognition

  1. Fu-Lien Hsieh
  2. Matthew K Higgins  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Oxford, United Kingdom


Antibodies are critical components of the human adaptive immune system, providing versatile scaffolds to display diverse antigen binding surfaces. Nevertheless, most antibodies have similar architectures, with the variable immunoglobulin domains of the heavy and light chain each providing three hypervariable loops, which are varied to generate diversity. The recent identification of a novel class of antibody in humans from malaria endemic regions of Africa was therefore surprising as one hypervariable loop contains the entire collagen-binding domain of human LAIR1. Here, we present the structure of the Fab fragment of such an antibody. We show that its antigen-binding site has adopted an architecture that positions LAIR1, while itself being occluded. This therefore represents an novel means of antigen recognition, in which the Fab fragment of an antibody acts as an adaptor, linking a human protein insert with antigen binding potential to the constant antibody regions which mediate immune cell recruitment.

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Author details

  1. Fu-Lien Hsieh

    Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Matthew K Higgins

    Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2870-1955


Wellcome (101020/Z/13/Z)

  • Fu-Lien Hsieh
  • Matthew K Higgins

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Pamela J Bjorkman, California Institute of Technology, United States

Version history

  1. Received: March 29, 2017
  2. Accepted: May 8, 2017
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: May 20, 2017 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: June 5, 2017 (version 2)


© 2017, Hsieh & Higgins

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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  1. Fu-Lien Hsieh
  2. Matthew K Higgins
The structure of a LAIR1-containing human antibody reveals a novel mechanism of antigen recognition
eLife 6:e27311.

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