Mast cells and basophils depend on aggregation of the high-affinity IgE receptor, FceRI, to initiate secretion. A variety of studies have shown that FceRI densities vary 100 fold among subjects’ basophils and it has been speculated that high densities might be responsible for unusual behaviors of the cells, notably sensitivity to certain monomeric IgE antibodies or spontaneous release. These studies experimentally examined the density dependence of spontaneous release and signaling element expression in subjects’ basophils with FceRI densities ranging from approximately 6000 to 600,000 per cell. Through the use of numerical simulation, this study examined the expectations for spontaneous receptor aggregation and aggregate persistence at densities of FceRI ranging from 5000 to 500,000. Experimentally, FceRI density was not associated with greater spontaneous histamine release even when secretion was enhanced by the inclusion of deuterium oxide in the buffers. There was also no association of 15 activating or de-activating signaling elements with FceRI density. The numerical simulations demonstrated that at densities of ≈500,000 receptors, 13% of receptors were involved in transient aggregates at any given moment but that these aggregates rarely persisted for greater than 10 milliseconds. In contrast, a weak linear antigen aggregator, with ligand affinities known to induce secretion, would generate aggregates persisting for an average of ≈60 milliseconds. These results suggest that although a high density of FceRI likely produces a large number of transient aggregates, these aggregates do not persist long enough to induce signaling that results in secretion and do not induce the cells to alter their expression of several signaling elements known to be important in regulating secretion from human basophils. The results set some boundaries on the aggregation requirements for inducing histamine release from human basophils.
MacGlashan, D. (2017). FceRI density and spontaneous secretion from human basophils. PLoS ONE, 12(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0179734