Immunoglobulin M (IgM)
IGHM; Immunoglobulin Heavy Constant Mu
, or IgM for short, is a basic antibody that is present on B cells. It is the primary antibody against A and B antigens on red blood cells. IgM is by far the physically largest antibody in the human circulatory system. It is produced after an animal has been exposed to an antigen for an extended time or when an animal is exposed to an antigen for the second time.
IgM forms polymers where multiple immunoglobulins are covalently linked together with disulfide bonds, mostly as a pentamer but also as a hexamer. IgM has a molecular mass of approximately 900 kD (in its pentamer form). Because each monomer has two antigen binding sites, a pentameric IgM has 10 binding sites. Typically, however, IgM cannot bind 10 antigens at the same time because the large size of most antigens hinders binding to nearby sites.