A role for the Fc receptor beta chain (FcRbeta) in the pathogenesis of allergy has been suggested by genetic studies. FcRbeta is a subunit common to the high-affinity IgE (FcepsilonRI) and low-affinity IgG (FcgammaRIII) receptors, both of which contribute to the initiation of allergic reactions. Current in vitro data suggest that FcRbeta can function as either a positive or negative regulator, leaving a mechanistic explanation for its association with the development of atopy unclear. To address this controversy, we have generated novel mouse models relevant to human Fc receptor function. Analysis of FcepsilonRI- and FcgammaRIII-dependent responses in these mice provides unequivocal genetic evidence that FcRbeta functions as an amplifier of early and late mast cell responses and, remarkably, in vivo anaphylactic responses.
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