Institute of Animal Physiology, Department of Veterinary Sciences, LMU München, Veterinärstr. 13, 80539 München, Germany.
Receptors of the immunoglobulin-like superfamily are critically involved in virtually every aspect of immune responses. One large chromosomal area encoding such immunoregulatory receptors is the leukocyte receptor cluster. Here we review various aspects of the chicken Ig-like receptor (CHIR) family, located on microchromosome 31, an orthologous position to the mammalian leukocyte receptor cluster. The CHIR family has been massively expanded with over hundred CHIR genes that are further distinguished into activating, inhibitory and bifunctional receptors. Comparisons of various features such as amino acid motifs, genomic structure, expression and associated adaptor molecules reveal the homology of CHIR to both the killer Ig-like and the leukocyte Ig-like receptor families, with most pronounced correlation of certain CHIR to the NK cell receptor KIR2DL4. To date the CHIR ligands remain largely obscure with the exception of CHIR-AB1 that binds to chicken IgY. Detailed analyses of CHIR-AB1, its crystal structure, the interaction to IgY and functional capabilities allow us to draw conclusions regarding Fc receptor phylogeny and function.
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