PerspectiveCell Biology

Signaling Shifts in Allergy Responses

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Science  28 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6174, pp. 982-983
DOI: 10.1126/science.1251425

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Mast cells initiate allergic reactions. These cells express a receptor (FcɛRI) that binds to immunoglobulin E (IgE). When antigen binds to receptor-bound IgE, a wide range of responses is triggered that together cause the symptoms of allergy. These include the release of enzymes and a variety of bioactive chemicals from granules, the generation of lipid-derived inflammatory molecules, and the secretion of multiple cytokines and chemokines. However, not all responses are equally induced. On page 1021 of this issue, Suzuki et al. (1) unravel how a difference in the affinity of antigen favors one response or another by switching between intracellular signaling pathways. Quantitative differences in antigen affinity thus determine the quality of mast cell responses.