Antibody-mediated defense against pathogens typically requires complex interactions between antibodies and other constituents of the humoral and cellular immune systems. However, recent evidence indicates that some antibodies alone can inhibit pathogen function in the absence of complement, phagocytes, or NK cells. In this issue of the JCI, McClelland et al. have begun to elucidate the molecular bases by which antibodies alone can impact pathogen growth and metabolism. They show that mAbs specific for the polysaccharide capsule of the human pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans elicit diverse effects on fungal gene expression, lipid biosynthesis, susceptibility to amphotericin B, cellular metabolism, and protein phosphorylation. These data suggest that pathogens have the capacity to generate broad metabolic responses as a result of surface binding by pathogen-specific antibodies, effects that may hold therapeutic promise.
Edward N. Janoff, Daniel N. Frank
A pathogen’s view of humoral immune defense.