An antibody (Ab), also known as an immunoglobulin (Ig), is a large, Y-shaped protein produced mainly by plasma cells that is used by the immune system to neutralize pathogens such as pathogenic bacteria and viruses. The antibody recognizes a unique molecule of the pathogen, called an antigen, via the Fab's variable region. Each tip of the "Y" of an antibody contains a paratope (analogous to a lock) that is specific for one particular epitope (similarly, analogous to a key) on an antigen, allowing these two structures to bind together with precision. Using this binding mechanism, an antibody can tag a microbe or an infected cell for attack by other parts of the immune system, or can neutralize its target directly (for example, by inhibiting a part of a microbe that is essential for its invasion and survival). Depending on the antigen, the binding may impede the biological process causing the disease or may activate macrophages to destroy the foreign substance. The ability of an antibody to communicate with the other components of the immune system is mediated via its Fc region (located at the base of the "Y"), which contains a conserved glycosylation site involved in these interactions. The production of antibodies is the main function of the humoral immune system.
Antibodies are secreted by B cells of the adaptive immune system, mostly by differentiated B cells called plasma cells. Antibodies can occur in two physical forms, a soluble form that is secreted from the cell to be free in the blood plasma, and a membrane-bound form that is attached to the surface of a B cell and is referred to as the B-cell receptor (BCR). The BCR is found only on the surface of B cells and facilitates the activation of these cells and their subsequent differentiation into either antibody factories called plasma cells or memory B cells that will survive in the body and remember that same antigen so the B cells can respond faster upon future exposure. In most cases, interaction of the B cell with a T helper cell is necessary to produce full activation of the B cell and, therefore, antibody generation following antigen binding. Soluble antibodies are released into the blood and tissue fluids, as well as many secretions to continue to survey for invading microorganisms.
Antibodies are glycoproteins belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily. They constitute most of the gamma globulin fraction of the blood proteins. They are typically made of basic structural units—each with two large heavy chains and two small light chains. There are several different types of antibody heavy chains that define the five different types of crystallisable fragments (Fc) that may be attached to the antigen-binding fragments. The five different types of Fc regions allow antibodies to be grouped into five isotypes. Each Fc region of a particular antibody isotype is able to bind to its specific Fc Receptor (except for IgD, which is essentially the BCR), thus allowing the antigen-antibody complex to mediate different roles depending on which FcR it binds. The ability of an antibody to bind to its corresponding FcR is further modulated by the structure of the glycan(s) present at conserved sites within its Fc region. The ability of antibodies to bind to FcRs helps to direct the appropriate immune response for each different type of foreign object they encounter. For example, IgE is responsible for an allergic response consisting of mast cell degranulation and histamine release. IgE's Fab paratope binds to allergic antigen, for example house dust mite particles, while its Fc region binds to Fc receptor ε. The allergen-IgE-FcRε interaction mediates allergic signal transduction to induce conditions such as asthma.
Though the general structure of all antibodies is very similar, a small region at the tip of the protein is extremely variable, allowing millions of antibodies with slightly different tip structures, or antigen-binding sites, to exist. This region is known as the hypervariable region. Each of these variants can bind to a different antigen. This enormous diversity of antibody paratopes on the antigen-binding fragments allows the immune system to recognize an equally wide variety of antigens. The large and diverse population of antibody paratope is generated by random recombination events of a set of gene segments that encode different antigen-binding sites (or paratopes), followed by random mutations in this area of the antibody gene, which create further diversity. This recombinational process that produces clonal antibody paratope diversity is called V(D)J or VJ recombination. Basically, the antibody paratope is polygenic, made up of three genes, V, D, and J. Each paratope locus is also polymorphic, such that during antibody production, one allele of V, one of D, and one of J is chosen. These gene segments are then joined together using random genetic recombination to produce the paratope. The regions where the genes are randomly recombined together is the hyper variable region used to recognise different antigens on a clonal basis.
Antibody genes also re-organize in a process called class switching that changes the one type of heavy chain Fc fragment to another, creating a different isotype of the antibody that retains the antigen-specific variable region. This allows a single antibody to be used by different types of Fc receptors, expressed on different parts of the immune system.
The first use of the term "antibody" occurred in a text by Paul Ehrlich. The term Antikörper (the German word for antibody) appears in the conclusion of his article "Experimental Studies on Immunity", published in October 1891, which states that, "if two substances give rise to two different Antikörper, then they themselves must be different". However, the term was not accepted immediately and several other terms for antibody were proposed; these included Immunkörper, Amboceptor, Zwischenkörper, substance sensibilisatrice, copula, Desmon, philocytase, fixateur, and Immunisin. The word antibody has formal analogy to the word antitoxin and a similar concept to Immunkörper (immune body in English). As such, the original construction of the word contains a logical flaw; the antitoxin is something directed against a toxin, while the antibody is a body directed against something.
The study of antibodies began in 1890 when Kitasato Shibasaburō described antibody activity against diphtheria and tetanus toxins. Kitasato put forward the theory of humoral immunity, proposing that a mediator in serum could react with a foreign antigen. His idea prompted Paul Ehrlich to propose the side-chain theory for antibody and antigen interaction in 1897, when he hypothesized that receptors (described as "side-chains") on the surface of cells could bind specifically to toxins – in a "lock-and-key" interaction – and that this binding reaction is the trigger for the production of antibodies. Other researchers believed that antibodies existed freely in the blood and, in 1904, Almroth Wright suggested that soluble antibodies coated bacteria to label them for phagocytosis and killing; a process that he named opsoninization.
In the 1920s, Michael Heidelberger and Oswald Avery observed that antigens could be precipitated by antibodies and went on to show that antibodies are made of protein. The biochemical properties of antigen-antibody-binding interactions were examined in more detail in the late 1930s by John Marrack. The next major advance was in the 1940s, when Linus Pauling confirmed the lock-and-key theory proposed by Ehrlich by showing that the interactions between antibodies and antigens depend more on their shape than their chemical composition. In 1948, Astrid Fagreaus discovered that B cells, in the form of plasma cells, were responsible for generating antibodies.
Further work concentrated on characterizing the structures of the antibody proteins. A major advance in these structural studies was the discovery in the early 1960s by Gerald Edelman and Joseph Gally of the antibody light chain, and their realization that this protein is the same as the Bence-Jones protein described in 1845 by Henry Bence Jones. Edelman went on to discover that antibodies are composed of disulfide bond-linked heavy and light chains. Around the same time, antibody-binding (Fab) and antibody tail (Fc) regions of IgG were characterized by Rodney Porter. Together, these scientists deduced the structure and complete amino acid sequence of IgG, a feat for which they were jointly awarded the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The Fv fragment was prepared and characterized by David Givol. While most of these early studies focused on IgM and IgG, other immunoglobulin isotypes were identified in the 1960s: Thomas Tomasi discovered secretory antibody (IgA); David S. Rowe and John L. Fahey discovered IgD; and Kimishige Ishizaka and Teruko Ishizaka discovered IgE and showed it was a class of antibodies involved in allergic reactions. In a landmark series of experiments beginning in 1976, Susumu Tonegawa showed that genetic material can rearrange itself to form the vast array of available antibodies.
The membrane-bound form of an antibody may be called a surface immunoglobulin (sIg) or a membrane immunoglobulin (mIg). It is part of the B cell receptor (BCR), which allows a B cell to detect when a specific antigen is present in the body and triggers B cell activation. The BCR is composed of surface-bound IgD or IgM antibodies and associated Ig-α and Ig-β heterodimers, which are capable of signal transduction. A typical human B cell will have 50,000 to 100,000 antibodies bound to its surface. Upon antigen binding, they cluster in large patches, which can exceed 1 micrometer in diameter, on lipid rafts that isolate the BCRs from most other cell signaling receptors. These patches may improve the efficiency of the cellular immune response. In humans, the cell surface is bare around the B cell receptors for several hundred nanometers, which further isolates the BCRs from competing influences.
The antibody's paratope interacts with the antigen's epitope. An antigen usually contains different epitopes along its surface arranged discontinuously, and dominant epitopes on a given antigen are called determinants.
Antibody and antigen interact by spatial complementarity (lock and key). The molecular forces involved in the Fab-epitope interaction are weak and non-specific – for example electrostatic forces, hydrogen bonds, hydrophobic interactions, and van der Waals forces. This means binding between antibody and antigen is reversible, and the antibody's affinity towards an antigen is relative rather than absolute. Relatively weak binding also means it is possible for an antibody to cross-react with different antigens of different relative affinities.
Often, once an antibody and antigen bind, they become an immune complex, which functions as a unitary object and can act as an antigen in its own right, being countered by other antibodies. Similarly, haptens are small molecules that provoke no immune response by themselves, but once they bind to proteins, the resulting complex or hapten-carrier adduct is antigenic.
Antibodies can come in different varieties known as isotypes or classes. In placental mammals there are five antibody isotypes known as IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM. They are each named with an "Ig" prefix that stands for immunoglobulin (a name sometimes used interchangeably with antibody) and differ in their biological properties, functional locations and ability to deal with different antigens, as depicted in the table. The different suffixes of the antibody isotypes denote the different types of heavy chains the antibody contains, with each heavy chain class named alphabetically: α (alpha), γ (gamma), δ (delta), ε (epsilon), and μ (mu). This gives rise to IgA, IgG, IgD, IgE, and IgM, respectively.
|IgA||2||Found in mucosal areas, such as the gut, respiratory tract and urogenital tract, and prevents colonization by pathogens. Also found in saliva, tears, and breast milk.|
|IgD||1||Functions mainly as an antigen receptor on B cells that have not been exposed to antigens. It has been shown to activate basophils and mast cells to produce antimicrobial factors.|
|IgE||1||Binds to allergens and triggers histamine release from mast cells and basophils, and is involved in allergy. Also protects against parasitic worms.|
|IgG||4||In its four forms, provides the majority of antibody-based immunity against invading pathogens. The only antibody capable of crossing the placenta to give passive immunity to the fetus.|
|IgM||1||Expressed on the surface of B cells (monomer) and in a secreted form (pentamer) with very high avidity. Eliminates pathogens in the early stages of B cell-mediated (humoral) immunity before there is sufficient IgG.|
The antibody isotype of a B cell changes during cell development and activation. Immature B cells, which have never been exposed to an antigen, express only the IgM isotype in a cell surface bound form. The B lymphocyte, in this ready-to-respond form, is known as a "naive B lymphocyte." The naive B lymphocyte expresses both surface IgM and IgD. The co-expression of both of these immunoglobulin isotypes renders the B cell ready to respond to antigen. B cell activation follows engagement of the cell-bound antibody molecule with an antigen, causing the cell to divide and differentiate into an antibody-producing cell called a plasma cell. In this activated form, the B cell starts to produce antibody in a secreted form rather than a membrane-bound form. Some daughter cells of the activated B cells undergo isotype switching, a mechanism that causes the production of antibodies to change from IgM or IgD to the other antibody isotypes, IgE, IgA, or IgG, that have defined roles in the immune system.
|IgY||Found in birds and reptiles; related to mammalian IgG.|
|IgW||Found in sharks and skates; related to mammalian IgD.|
Antibodies are heavy (~150 kDa) globular plasma proteins. The size of an antibody molecule is about 10 nm. They have sugar chains (glycans) added to conserved amino acid residues. In other words, antibodies are glycoproteins. The attached glycans are critically important to the structure and function of the antibody. Among other things the expressed glycans can modulate an antibody's affinity for its corresponding FcR(s).
The basic functional unit of each antibody is an immunoglobulin (Ig) monomer (containing only one Ig unit); secreted antibodies can also be dimeric with two Ig units as with IgA, tetrameric with four Ig units like teleost fish IgM, or pentameric with five Ig units, like mammalian IgM.
The variable parts of an antibody are its V regions, and the constant part is its C region.
The Ig monomer is a "Y"-shaped molecule that consists of four polypeptide chains; two identical heavy chains and two identical light chains connected by disulfide bonds. Each chain is composed of structural domains called immunoglobulin domains. These domains contain about 70–110 amino acids and are classified into different categories (for example, variable or IgV, and constant or IgC) according to their size and function. They have a characteristic immunoglobulin fold in which two beta sheets create a "sandwich" shape, held together by interactions between conserved cysteines and other charged amino acids.
There are five types of mammalian Ig heavy chain denoted by the Greek letters: α, δ, ε, γ, and μ. The type of heavy chain present defines the class of antibody; these chains are found in IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM antibodies, respectively. Distinct heavy chains differ in size and composition; α and γ contain approximately 450 amino acids, whereas μ and ε have approximately 550 amino acids.
Each heavy chain has two regions, the constant region and the variable region. The constant region is identical in all antibodies of the same isotype, but differs in antibodies of different isotypes. Heavy chains γ, α and δ have a constant region composed of three tandem (in a line) Ig domains, and a hinge region for added flexibility; heavy chains μ and ε have a constant region composed of four immunoglobulin domains. The variable region of the heavy chain differs in antibodies produced by different B cells, but is the same for all antibodies produced by a single B cell or B cell clone. The variable region of each heavy chain is approximately 110 amino acids long and is composed of a single Ig domain.
In mammals there are two types of immunoglobulin light chain, which are called lambda (λ) and kappa (κ). A light chain has two successive domains: one constant domain and one variable domain. The approximate length of a light chain is 211 to 217 amino acids. Each antibody contains two light chains that are always identical; only one type of light chain, κ or λ, is present per antibody in mammals. Other types of light chains, such as the iota (ι) chain, are found in other vertebrates like sharks (Chondrichthyes) and bony fishes (Teleostei).
Some parts of an antibody have the same functions. The arms of the Y, for example, contain the sites that can bind to antigens (in general, identical) and, therefore, recognize specific foreign objects. This region of the antibody is called the Fab (fragment, antigen-binding) region. It is composed of one constant and one variable domain from each heavy and light chain of the antibody. The paratope is shaped at the amino terminal end of the antibody monomer by the variable domains from the heavy and light chains. The variable domain is also referred to as the FV region and is the most important region for binding to antigens. To be specific, variable loops of β-strands, three each on the light (VL) and heavy (VH) chains are responsible for binding to the antigen. These loops are referred to as the complementarity determining regions (CDRs). The structures of these CDRs have been clustered and classified by Chothia et al. and more recently by North et al. and Nikoloudis et al. In the framework of the immune network theory, CDRs are also called idiotypes. According to immune network theory, the adaptive immune system is regulated by interactions between idiotypes.
The base of the Y plays a role in modulating immune cell activity. This region is called the Fc (Fragment, crystallizable) region, and is composed of two heavy chains that contribute two or three constant domains depending on the class of the antibody. Thus, the Fc region ensures that each antibody generates an appropriate immune response for a given antigen, by binding to a specific class of Fc receptors, and other immune molecules, such as complement proteins. By doing this, it mediates different physiological effects including recognition of opsonized particles (binding to FcγR), lysis of cells (binding to complement), and degranulation of mast cells, basophils, and eosinophils (binding to FcεR).
In summary, the Fab region of the antibody determines antigen specificity while the Fc region of the antibody determines the antibody's class effect. Since only the constant domains of the heavy chains make up the Fc region of an antibody, the classes of heavy chain in antibodies determine their class effects. Possible classes of heavy chains in antibodies include alpha, gamma, delta, epsilon, and mu, and they define the antibody's isotypes IgA, G, D, E, and M, respectively. This infers different isotypes of antibodies have different class effects due to their different Fc regions binding and activating different types of receptors. Possible class effects of antibodies include: Opsonisation, agglutination, haemolysis, complement activation, mast cell degranulation, and neutralisation (though this class effect may be mediated by the Fab region rather than the Fc region). It also implies that Fab-mediated effects are directed at microbes or toxins, whilst Fc mediated effects are directed at effector cells or effector molecules (see below).
The main categories of antibody action include the following:
Activated B cells differentiate into either antibody-producing cells called plasma cells that secrete soluble antibody or memory cells that survive in the body for years afterward in order to allow the immune system to remember an antigen and respond faster upon future exposures.
At the prenatal and neonatal stages of life, the presence of antibodies is provided by passive immunization from the mother. Early endogenous antibody production varies for different kinds of antibodies, and usually appear within the first years of life. Since antibodies exist freely in the bloodstream, they are said to be part of the humoral immune system. Circulating antibodies are produced by clonal B cells that specifically respond to only one antigen (an example is a virus capsid protein fragment). Antibodies contribute to immunity in three ways: They prevent pathogens from entering or damaging cells by binding to them; they stimulate removal of pathogens by macrophages and other cells by coating the pathogen; and they trigger destruction of pathogens by stimulating other immune responses such as the complement pathway. Antibodies will also trigger vasoactive amine degranulation to contribute to immunity against certain types of antigens (helminths, allergens).
Antibodies that bind to surface antigens (for example, on bacteria) will attract the first component of the complement cascade with their Fc region and initiate activation of the "classical" complement system. This results in the killing of bacteria in two ways. First, the binding of the antibody and complement molecules marks the microbe for ingestion by phagocytes in a process called opsonization; these phagocytes are attracted by certain complement molecules generated in the complement cascade. Second, some complement system components form a membrane attack complex to assist antibodies to kill the bacterium directly (bacteriolysis).
To combat pathogens that replicate outside cells, antibodies bind to pathogens to link them together, causing them to agglutinate. Since an antibody has at least two paratopes, it can bind more than one antigen by binding identical epitopes carried on the surfaces of these antigens. By coating the pathogen, antibodies stimulate effector functions against the pathogen in cells that recognize their Fc region.
Those cells that recognize coated pathogens have Fc receptors, which, as the name suggests, interact with the Fc region of IgA, IgG, and IgE antibodies. The engagement of a particular antibody with the Fc receptor on a particular cell triggers an effector function of that cell; phagocytes will phagocytose, mast cells and neutrophils will degranulate, natural killer cells will release cytokines and cytotoxic molecules; that will ultimately result in destruction of the invading microbe. The activation of natural killer cells by antibodies initiates a cytotoxic mechanism known as antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) – this process may explain the efficacy of monoclonal antibodies used in biological therapies against cancer. The Fc receptors are isotype-specific, which gives greater flexibility to the immune system, invoking only the appropriate immune mechanisms for distinct pathogens.
Humans and higher primates also produce "natural antibodies" that are present in serum before viral infection. Natural antibodies have been defined as antibodies that are produced without any previous infection, vaccination, other foreign antigen exposure or passive immunization. These antibodies can activate the classical complement pathway leading to lysis of enveloped virus particles long before the adaptive immune response is activated. Many natural antibodies are directed against the disaccharide galactose α(1,3)-galactose (α-Gal), which is found as a terminal sugar on glycosylated cell surface proteins, and generated in response to production of this sugar by bacteria contained in the human gut. Rejection of xenotransplantated organs is thought to be, in part, the result of natural antibodies circulating in the serum of the recipient binding to α-Gal antigens expressed on the donor tissue.
Virtually all microbes can trigger an antibody response. Successful recognition and eradication of many different types of microbes requires diversity among antibodies; their amino acid composition varies allowing them to interact with many different antigens. It has been estimated that humans generate about 10 billion different antibodies, each capable of binding a distinct epitope of an antigen. Although a huge repertoire of different antibodies is generated in a single individual, the number of genes available to make these proteins is limited by the size of the human genome. Several complex genetic mechanisms have evolved that allow vertebrate B cells to generate a diverse pool of antibodies from a relatively small number of antibody genes.
The chromosomal region that encodes an antibody is large and contains several distinct gene loci for each domain of the antibody—the chromosome region containing heavy chain genes (IGH@) is found on chromosome 14, and the loci containing lambda and kappa light chain genes (IGL@ and IGK@) are found on chromosomes 22 and 2 in humans. One of these domains is called the variable domain, which is present in each heavy and light chain of every antibody, but can differ in different antibodies generated from distinct B cells. Differences, between the variable domains, are located on three loops known as hypervariable regions (HV-1, HV-2 and HV-3) or complementarity determining regions (CDR1, CDR2 and CDR3). CDRs are supported within the variable domains by conserved framework regions. The heavy chain locus contains about 65 different variable domain genes that all differ in their CDRs. Combining these genes with an array of genes for other domains of the antibody generates a large cavalry of antibodies with a high degree of variability. This combination is called V(D)J recombination discussed below.
Somatic recombination of immunoglobulins, also known as V(D)J recombination, involves the generation of a unique immunoglobulin variable region. The variable region of each immunoglobulin heavy or light chain is encoded in several pieces—known as gene segments (subgenes). These segments are called variable (V), diversity (D) and joining (J) segments. V, D and J segments are found in Ig heavy chains, but only V and J segments are found in Ig light chains. Multiple copies of the V, D and J gene segments exist, and are tandemly arranged in the genomes of mammals. In the bone marrow, each developing B cell will assemble an immunoglobulin variable region by randomly selecting and combining one V, one D and one J gene segment (or one V and one J segment in the light chain). As there are multiple copies of each type of gene segment, and different combinations of gene segments can be used to generate each immunoglobulin variable region, this process generates a huge number of antibodies, each with different paratopes, and thus different antigen specificities. The rearrangement of several subgenes (i.e. V2 family) for lambda light chain immunoglobulin is coupled with the activation of microRNA miR-650, which further influences biology of B-cells.
After a B cell produces a functional immunoglobulin gene during V(D)J recombination, it cannot express any other variable region (a process known as allelic exclusion) thus each B cell can produce antibodies containing only one kind of variable chain.
Following activation with antigen, B cells begin to proliferate rapidly. In these rapidly dividing cells, the genes encoding the variable domains of the heavy and light chains undergo a high rate of point mutation, by a process called somatic hypermutation (SHM). SHM results in approximately one nucleotide change per variable gene, per cell division. As a consequence, any daughter B cells will acquire slight amino acid differences in the variable domains of their antibody chains.
This serves to increase the diversity of the antibody pool and impacts the antibody's antigen-binding affinity. Some point mutations will result in the production of antibodies that have a weaker interaction (low affinity) with their antigen than the original antibody, and some mutations will generate antibodies with a stronger interaction (high affinity). B cells that express high affinity antibodies on their surface will receive a strong survival signal during interactions with other cells, whereas those with low affinity antibodies will not, and will die by apoptosis. Thus, B cells expressing antibodies with a higher affinity for the antigen will outcompete those with weaker affinities for function and survival allowing the average affinity of antibodies to increase over time. The process of generating antibodies with increased binding affinities is called affinity maturation. Affinity maturation occurs in mature B cells after V(D)J recombination, and is dependent on help from helper T cells.
Isotype or class switching is a biological process occurring after activation of the B cell, which allows the cell to produce different classes of antibody (IgA, IgE, or IgG). The different classes of antibody, and thus effector functions, are defined by the constant (C) regions of the immunoglobulin heavy chain. Initially, naive B cells express only cell-surface IgM and IgD with identical antigen binding regions. Each isotype is adapted for a distinct function; therefore, after activation, an antibody with an IgG, IgA, or IgE effector function might be required to effectively eliminate an antigen. Class switching allows different daughter cells from the same activated B cell to produce antibodies of different isotypes. Only the constant region of the antibody heavy chain changes during class switching; the variable regions, and therefore antigen specificity, remain unchanged. Thus the progeny of a single B cell can produce antibodies, all specific for the same antigen, but with the ability to produce the effector function appropriate for each antigenic challenge. Class switching is triggered by cytokines; the isotype generated depends on which cytokines are present in the B cell environment.
Class switching occurs in the heavy chain gene locus by a mechanism called class switch recombination (CSR). This mechanism relies on conserved nucleotide motifs, called switch (S) regions, found in DNA upstream of each constant region gene (except in the δ-chain). The DNA strand is broken by the activity of a series of enzymes at two selected S-regions. The variable domain exon is rejoined through a process called non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) to the desired constant region (γ, α or ε). This process results in an immunoglobulin gene that encodes an antibody of a different isotype.
An antibody can be called monospecific if it has specificity for the same antigen or epitope, or bispecific if they have affinity for two different antigens or two different epitopes on the same antigen. A group of antibodies can be called polyvalent (or unspecific) if they have affinity for various antigens or microorganisms. Intravenous immunoglobulin, if not otherwise noted, consists of a variety of different IgG (polyclonal IgG). In contrast, monoclonal antibodies are identical antibodies produced by a single B cell.
Heterodimeric antibodies, which are also asymmetrical and antibodies, allow for greater flexibility and new formats for attaching a variety of drugs to the antibody arms. One of the general formats for a heterodimeric antibody is the “knobs-into-holes” format. This format is specific to the heavy chain part of the constant region in antibodies. The “knobs” part is engineered by replacing a small amino acid with a larger one. It fits into the “hole”, which is engineered by replacing a large amino acid with a smaller one. What connects the “knobs” to the “holes” are the disulfide bonds between each chain. The “knobs-into-holes” shape facilitates antibody dependent cell mediated cytotoxicity. Single chain variable fragments (scFv) are connected to the variable domain of the heavy and light chain via a short linker peptide. The linker is rich in glycine, which gives it more flexibility, and serine/threonine, which gives it specificity. Two different scFv fragments can be connected together, via a hinge region, to the constant domain of the heavy chain or the constant domain of the light chain. This gives the antibody bispecificity, allowing for the binding specificities of two different antigens. The “knobs-into-holes” format enhances heterodimer formation but doesn’t suppress homodimer formation.
To further improve the function of heterodimeric antibodies, many scientists are looking towards artificial constructs. Artificial antibodies are largely diverse protein motifs that use the functional strategy of the antibody molecule, but aren’t limited by the loop and framework structural constraints of the natural antibody. Being able to control the combinational design of the sequence and three-dimensional space could transcend the natural design and allow for the attachment of different combinations of drugs to the arms.
Heterodimeric antibodies have a greater range in shapes they can take and the drugs that are attached to the arms don’t have to be the same on each arm, allowing for different combinations of drugs to be used in cancer treatment. Pharmaceuticals are able to produce highly functional bispecific, and even multispecific, antibodies. The degree to which they can function is impressive given that such a change shape from the natural form should lead to decreased functionality.
Detection of particular antibodies is a very common form of medical diagnostics, and applications such as serology depend on these methods. For example, in biochemical assays for disease diagnosis, a titer of antibodies directed against Epstein-Barr virus or Lyme disease is estimated from the blood. If those antibodies are not present, either the person is not infected or the infection occurred a very long time ago, and the B cells generating these specific antibodies have naturally decayed.
In clinical immunology, levels of individual classes of immunoglobulins are measured by nephelometry (or turbidimetry) to characterize the antibody profile of patient. Elevations in different classes of immunoglobulins are sometimes useful in determining the cause of liver damage in patients for whom the diagnosis is unclear. For example, elevated IgA indicates alcoholic cirrhosis, elevated IgM indicates viral hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis, while IgG is elevated in viral hepatitis, autoimmune hepatitis and cirrhosis.
Autoimmune disorders can often be traced to antibodies that bind the body's own epitopes; many can be detected through blood tests. Antibodies directed against red blood cell surface antigens in immune mediated hemolytic anemia are detected with the Coombs test. The Coombs test is also used for antibody screening in blood transfusion preparation and also for antibody screening in antenatal women.
Practically, several immunodiagnostic methods based on detection of complex antigen-antibody are used to diagnose infectious diseases, for example ELISA, immunofluorescence, Western blot, immunodiffusion, immunoelectrophoresis, and magnetic immunoassay. Antibodies raised against human chorionic gonadotropin are used in over the counter pregnancy tests.
Targeted monoclonal antibody therapy is employed to treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and many forms of cancer including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer and breast cancer.
Some immune deficiencies, such as X-linked agammaglobulinemia and hypogammaglobulinemia, result in partial or complete lack of antibodies. These diseases are often treated by inducing a short term form of immunity called passive immunity. Passive immunity is achieved through the transfer of ready-made antibodies in the form of human or animal serum, pooled immunoglobulin or monoclonal antibodies, into the affected individual.
Rh factor, also known as Rh D antigen, is an antigen found on red blood cells; individuals that are Rh-positive (Rh+) have this antigen on their red blood cells and individuals that are Rh-negative (Rh–) do not. During normal childbirth, delivery trauma or complications during pregnancy, blood from a fetus can enter the mother's system. In the case of an Rh-incompatible mother and child, consequential blood mixing may sensitize an Rh- mother to the Rh antigen on the blood cells of the Rh+ child, putting the remainder of the pregnancy, and any subsequent pregnancies, at risk for hemolytic disease of the newborn.
Rho(D) immune globulin antibodies are specific for human RhD antigen. Anti-RhD antibodies are administered as part of a prenatal treatment regimen to prevent sensitization that may occur when a Rh-negative mother has a Rh-positive fetus. Treatment of a mother with Anti-RhD antibodies prior to and immediately after trauma and delivery destroys Rh antigen in the mother's system from the fetus. It is important to note that this occurs before the antigen can stimulate maternal B cells to "remember" Rh antigen by generating memory B cells. Therefore, her humoral immune system will not make anti-Rh antibodies, and will not attack the Rh antigens of the current or subsequent babies. Rho(D) Immune Globulin treatment prevents sensitization that can lead to Rh disease, but does not prevent or treat the underlying disease itself.
Specific antibodies are produced by injecting an antigen into a mammal, such as a mouse, rat, rabbit, goat, sheep, or horse for large quantities of antibody. Blood isolated from these animals contains polyclonal antibodies—multiple antibodies that bind to the same antigen—in the serum, which can now be called antiserum. Antigens are also injected into chickens for generation of polyclonal antibodies in egg yolk. To obtain antibody that is specific for a single epitope of an antigen, antibody-secreting lymphocytes are isolated from the animal and immortalized by fusing them with a cancer cell line. The fused cells are called hybridomas, and will continually grow and secrete antibody in culture. Single hybridoma cells are isolated by dilution cloning to generate cell clones that all produce the same antibody; these antibodies are called monoclonal antibodies. Polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies are often purified using Protein A/G or antigen-affinity chromatography.
In research, purified antibodies are used in many applications. Antibodies for research applications can be found directly from antibody suppliers, or through use of a specialist search engine. Research antibodies are most commonly used to identify and locate intracellular and extracellular proteins. Antibodies are used in flow cytometry to differentiate cell types by the proteins they express; different types of cell express different combinations of cluster of differentiation molecules on their surface, and produce different intracellular and secretable proteins. They are also used in immunoprecipitation to separate proteins and anything bound to them (co-immunoprecipitation) from other molecules in a cell lysate, in Western blot analyses to identify proteins separated by electrophoresis, and in immunohistochemistry or immunofluorescence to examine protein expression in tissue sections or to locate proteins within cells with the assistance of a microscope. Proteins can also be detected and quantified with antibodies, using ELISA and ELISPOT techniques.
Antibodies used in research are some of the most powerful, yet most problematic reagents with a tremendous number of factors that must be controlled in any experiment including cross reactivity, or the antibody recognizing multiple epitopes and affinity, which can vary widely depending on experimental conditions such as pH, solvent, state of tissue etc. Multiple attempts have been made to improve both the way that researchers validate antibodies and ways in which they report on antibodies. Researchers using antibodies in their work need to record them correctly in order to allow their research to be reproducible (and therefore tested, and qualified by other researchers). Less than half of research antibodies referenced in academic papers can be easily identified. Papers published in F1000 in 2014 and 2015 provide researchers with a guide for reporting research antibody use. The RRID paper, is co-published in 4 journals that implemented the RRIDs Standard for research resource citation, which draws data from the antibodyregistry.org as the source of antibody identifiers (see also group at Force11)
Traditionally, most antibodies are produced by hybridoma cell lines through immortalization of antibody-producing cells by chemically-induced fusion with myeloma cells. In some cases, additional fusions with other lines have created "triomas" and "quadromas". The manufacturing process should be appropriately described and validated. Validation studies should at least include:
The importance of antibodies in health care and the biotechnology industry demands knowledge of their structures at high resolution. This information is used for protein engineering, modifying the antigen binding affinity, and identifying an epitope, of a given antibody. X-ray crystallography is one commonly used method for determining antibody structures. However, crystallizing an antibody is often laborious and time-consuming. Computational approaches provide a cheaper and faster alternative to crystallography, but their results are more equivocal, since they do not produce empirical structures. Online web servers such as Web Antibody Modeling (WAM) and Prediction of Immunoglobulin Structure (PIGS) enables computational modeling of antibody variable regions. Rosetta Antibody is a novel antibody FV region structure prediction server, which incorporates sophisticated techniques to minimize CDR loops and optimize the relative orientation of the light and heavy chains, as well as homology models that predict successful docking of antibodies with their unique antigen.
The ability to describe the antibody through binding affinity to the antigen is supplemented by information on antibody structure and amino acid sequences for the purpose of patent claims. Several methods have been presented for computational design of antibodies based on the structural bioinformatics studies of antibody CDRs.
There are a variety of methods used to sequence an antibody including Edman degradation, cDNA, etc; albeit one of the most common modern uses for peptide/protein identification is liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). High volume anitbody sequencing methods require computational approaches for the data analysis, including de novo sequencing directly from tandem mass spectra and database search methods that use existing protein sequence databases. Many versions of shotgun protein sequencing are able to increase the coverage by utilizing CID/HCD/ETD fragmentation methods and other techniques, and they have achieved substantial progress in attempt to fully sequence proteins, especially antibodies. Other methods have assumed the existence of similar proteins, a known genome sequence, or combined top-down and bottom up approaches. Current technologies have the ability to assemble protein sequences with high accuracy by integrating de novo sequencing peptides, intensity, and positional confidence scores from database and homology searches.
Antibody mimetics are organic compounds, like antibodies, that can specifically bind antigens. They are usually artificial peptides or proteins with a molar mass of about 3 to 20 kDa. Nucleic acids and small molecules are sometimes considered antibody mimetics, but not artificial antibodies, antibody fragments and fusion proteins are composed from these. Common advantages over antibodies are better solubility, tissue penetration, stability towards heat and enzymes, and comparatively low production costs. Antibody mimetics such as the Affimer and the DARPin have being developed and commercialised as research, diagnostic and therapeutic agents.
The antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), also referred to as antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity, is a mechanism of cell-mediated immune defense whereby an effector cell of the immune system actively lyses a target cell, whose membrane-surface antigens have been bound by specific antibodies. It is one of the mechanisms through which antibodies, as part of the humoral immune response, can act to limit and contain infection.ADCC is independent of the immune complement system that also lyses targets but does not require any other cell. ADCC requires an effector cell which classically is known to be natural killer (NK) cells that typically interact with IgG antibodies. However, macrophages, neutrophils and eosinophils can also mediate ADCC, such as eosinophils killing certain parasitic worms known as helminths via IgE antibodies.ADCC is part of the adaptive immune response due to its dependence on a prior antibody response. The coating of target cells with antibodies is sometimes referred to as opsonization.Antigen
In immunology, antigens (Ag) are structures (aka substances) specifically bound by antibodies (Ab) or a cell surface version of Ab ~ B cell antigen receptor (BCR). The term antigen originally described a structural molecule that binds specifically to an antibody only in the form of native antigen. It was expanded later to refer to any molecule or a linear molecular fragment after processing the native antigen that can be recognized by T-cell receptor (TCR). BCR and TCR are both highly variable antigen receptors diversified by somatic V(D)J recombination. Both T cells and B cells are cellular components of adaptive immunity. The Ag abbreviation stands for an antibody generator. Antigens are "targeted" by antibodies. Each antibody is specifically produced by the immune system to match an antigen after cells in the immune system come into contact with it; this allows a precise identification or matching of the antigen and the initiation of a tailored response. The antibody is said to "match" the antigen in the sense that it can bind to it due to an adaptation in a region of the antibody; because of this, many different antibodies are produced, each able to bind a different antigen while sharing the same basic structure. In most cases, an adapted antibody can only react to and bind one specific antigen; in some instances, however, antibodies may cross-react and bind more than one antigen.
Also, an antigen is a molecule that binds to Ag-specific receptors, but cannot necessarily induce an immune response in the body by itself. Antigens are usually proteins, peptides (amino acid chains) and polysaccharides (chains of monosaccharides/simple sugars) but lipids and nucleic acids become antigens only when combined with proteins and polysaccharides. In general, saccharides and lipids (as opposed to peptides) qualify as antigens but not as immunogens since they cannot elicit an immune response on their own. Furthermore, for a peptide to induce an immune response (activation of T-cells by antigen-presenting cells) it must be a large enough size, since peptides too small will also not elicit an immune response.
The antigen may originate from within the body ("self-antigen") or from the external environment ("non-self"). The immune system is supposed to identify and attack "non-self" invaders from the outside world or modified/harmful substances present in the body and usually does not react to self-antigens under normal homeostatic conditions due to negative selection of T cells in the thymus.Vaccines are examples of antigens in an immunogenic form, which are intentionally administered to a recipient to induce the memory function of adaptive immune system toward the antigens of the pathogen invading that recipient.Antiphospholipid syndrome
Antiphospholipid syndrome or antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS or APLS), is an autoimmune, hypercoagulable state caused by antiphospholipid antibodies. APS provokes blood clots (thrombosis) in both arteries and veins as well as pregnancy-related complications such as miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery, and severe preeclampsia.
The diagnostic criteria require one clinical event (i.e. thrombosis or pregnancy complication) and two antibody blood tests spaced at least three months apart that confirm the presence of either lupus anticoagulant or anti-β2-glycoprotein-I (since β2-glycoprotein-I antibodies are a subset of anti-cardiolipin antibodies, an anti-cardiolipin assay can be performed as a less specific proxy).Antiphospholipid syndrome can be primary or secondary. Primary antiphospholipid syndrome occurs in the absence of any other related disease. Secondary antiphospholipid syndrome occurs with other autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In rare cases, APS leads to rapid organ failure due to generalised thrombosis; this is termed "catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome" (CAPS or Asherson syndrome) and is associated with a high risk of death.
Antiphospholipid syndrome often requires treatment with anticoagulant medication such as heparin to reduce the risk of further episodes of thrombosis and improve the prognosis of pregnancy. Warfarin/Coumadin is not used during pregnancy because it can cross the placenta, unlike heparin, and is teratogenic.Cancer immunotherapy
Cancer immunotherapy (sometimes called immuno-oncology) is the artificial stimulation of the immune system to treat cancer, improving on the system's natural ability to fight cancer. It is an application of the fundamental research of cancer immunology and a growing subspecialty of oncology. It exploits the fact that cancer cells often have tumor antigens, molecules on their surface that can be detected by the antibody proteins of the immune system, binding to them. The tumor antigens are often proteins or other macromolecules (e.g. carbohydrates). Normal antibodies bind to external pathogens, but the modified immunotherapy antibodies bind to the tumor antigens marking and identifying the cancer cells for the immune system to inhibit or kill.Coombs test
A Coombs test (also known as antiglobulin test or AGT) is either of two clinical blood tests used in immunohematology and immunology. The two Coombs tests are the direct Coombs test (DCT, also known as direct antiglobulin test or DAT), and the indirect Coombs test (also known as indirect antiglobulin test or IAT)
The direct Coombs test is used to test for autoimmune hemolytic anemia—that is, a condition where the immune system breaks down red blood cells, leading to anemia. The direct Coombs test is used to detect antibodies or complement proteins attached to the surface of red blood cells. To perform the test, a blood sample is taken and the red blood cells are washed (removing the patient's own plasma and unbound antibodies from the red blood cells) and then incubated with anti-human globulin ("Coombs reagent"). If the red cells then agglutinate, the direct Coombs test is positive, a visual indication that antibodies or complement proteins are bound to the surface of red blood cells and may be causing destruction of those cells.
The indirect Coombs test is used in prenatal testing of pregnant women and in testing prior to a blood transfusion. The test detects antibodies against foreign red blood cells. In this case, serum is extracted from a blood sample taken from the patient. The serum is incubated with foreign red blood cells of known antigenicity. Finally, anti-human globulin is added. If agglutination occurs, the indirect Coombs test is positive.Depatuxizumab mafodotin
Depatuxizumab mafodotin (ABT-414) (INN) is an antibody-drug conjugate designed for the treatment of cancer. It is composed of an EGFR IGg1 monoclonal antibody (depatuxizumab) conjugated to the tubulin inhibitor monomethyl auristatin F via a stable maleimidocaproyl link.In 2014, Orphan Drug Status was granted by the FDA for glioblastoma multiforme. It is in phase II/III clinical trials for glioblastoma, in phase II clinical trials for non-small cell lung cancer, and in phase I clinical trials for the treatment of other solid tumors. Phase I results were presented at ASCO in 2016.This drug was developed by AbbVie.ELISA
The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (, ) is a commonly used analytical biochemistry assay, first described by Weiland in 1978. The assay uses a solid-phase enzyme immunoassay (EIA) to detect the presence of a ligand (commonly a protein) in a liquid sample using antibodies directed against the protein to be measured. The ELISA has been used as a diagnostic tool in medicine, plant pathology, and biotechnology, as well as a quality control check in various industries.In the most simple form of an ELISA, antigens from the sample are attached to a surface. Then, a matching antibody is applied over the surface so it can bind to the antigen. This antibody is linked to an enzyme, and in the final step, a substance containing the enzyme's substrate is added. The subsequent reaction produces a detectable signal, most commonly a color change in the substrate.
Performing an ELISA involves at least one antibody with specificity for a particular antigen. The sample with an unknown amount of antigen is immobilized on a solid support (usually a polystyrene microtiter plate) either non-specifically (via adsorption to the surface) or specifically (via capture by another antibody specific to the same antigen, in a "sandwich" ELISA). After the antigen is immobilized, the detection antibody is added, forming a complex with the antigen. The detection antibody can be covalently linked to an enzyme or can itself be detected by a secondary antibody that is linked to an enzyme through bioconjugation. Between each step, the plate is typically washed with a mild detergent solution to remove any proteins or antibodies that are non-specifically bound. After the final wash step, the plate is developed by adding an enzymatic substrate to produce a visible signal, which indicates the quantity of antigen in the sample.
Of note, ELISA can perform other forms of ligand binding assays instead of strictly "immuno" assays, though the name carried the original "immuno" because of the common use and history of development of this method. The technique essentially requires any ligating reagent that can be immobilized on the solid phase along with a detection reagent that will bind specifically and use an enzyme to generate a signal that can be properly quantified. In between the washes, only the ligand and its specific binding counterparts remain specifically bound or "immunosorbed" by antigen-antibody interactions to the solid phase, while the nonspecific or unbound components are washed away. Unlike other spectrophotometric wet lab assay formats where the same reaction well (e.g., a cuvette) can be reused after washing, the ELISA plates have the reaction products immunosorbed on the solid phase, which is part of the plate, and so are not easily reusable.Fontolizumab
Fontolizumab (planned trade name HuZAF) is a humanized monoclonal antibody and an immunosuppressive drug for the treatment of auto-immune diseases like Crohn's disease. A phase II clinical trial investigating the use for rheumatoid arthritis was terminated because the first phase did not meet the endpoint.Fremanezumab
Fremanezumab (INN), marketed under the trade name Ajovy, is a humanized monoclonal antibody directed against calcitonin-related polypeptides (CGRP) alpha and beta. It is used for the preventative treatment of migraine. Fremanezumab was discovered and developed by Rinat Neuroscience, was acquired by Pfizer in 2006, and was then licensed to Teva.Galcanezumab
Galcanezumab, marketed under the trade name Emgality, is a humanized monoclonal antibody used for the prevention of migraine. It is directed against calcitonin-related polypeptides alpha and beta.
This drug was developed by Eli Lilly & Co. As of July 2017. The drug was approved by the US FDA in September 2018, becoming the third marketed CGRP inhibitor for the United States.Humanized antibody
Humanized antibodies are antibodies from non-human species whose protein sequences have been modified to increase their similarity to antibody variants produced naturally in humans. The process of "humanization" is usually applied to monoclonal antibodies developed for administration to humans (for example, antibodies developed as anti-cancer drugs). Humanization can be necessary when the process of developing a specific antibody involves generation in a non-human immune system (such as that in mice). The protein sequences of antibodies produced in this way are partially distinct from homologous antibodies occurring naturally in humans, and are therefore potentially immunogenic when administered to human patients (see also Human anti-mouse antibody). There are other types of antibodies developed. The International Nonproprietary Names of humanized antibodies end in -zumab, as in omalizumab (see Nomenclature of monoclonal antibodies).
Humanized antibodies are distinct from chimeric antibodies. The latter also have their protein sequences made more similar to human antibodies, but carry a larger stretch of non-human protein.Humoral immunity
Humoral immunity or humoural immunity is the aspect of immunity that is mediated by macromolecules found in extracellular fluids such as secreted antibodies, complement proteins, and certain antimicrobial peptides. Humoral immunity is so named because it involves substances found in the humors, or body fluids. It contrasts with cell-mediated immunity. Its aspects involving antibodies are often called antibody-mediated immunity.
The study of the molecular and cellular components that form the immune system, including their function and interaction, is the central science of immunology. The immune system is divided into a more primitive innate immune system, and acquired or adaptive immune system of vertebrates, each of which contains humoral and cellular components.
Humoral immunity refers to antibody production and the accessory processes that accompany it, including: Th2 activation and cytokine production, germinal center formation and isotype switching, affinity maturation and memory cell generation. It also refers to the effector functions of antibodies, which include pathogen and toxin neutralization, classical complement activation, and opsonin promotion of phagocytosis and pathogen elimination.Icrucumab
Icrucumab (IMC-18F1) is a human monoclonal antibody designed for the treatment of solid tumors.Icrucumab was developed by ImClone Systems Inc. It is undergoing Phase I trials.Immunofluorescence
Immunofluorescence is a technique used for light microscopy with a fluorescence microscope and is used primarily on microbiological samples. This technique uses the specificity of antibodies to their antigen to target fluorescent dyes to specific biomolecule targets within a cell, and therefore allows visualization of the distribution of the target molecule through the sample. The specific region an antibody recognizes on an antigen is called an epitope. There have been efforts in epitope mapping since many antibodies can bind the same epitope and levels of binding between antibodies that recognize the same epitope can vary. Additionally, the binding of the fluorophore to the antibody itself cannot interfere with the immunological specificity of the antibody or the binding capacity of its antigen. Immunofluorescence is a widely used example of immunostaining (using antibodies to stain proteins) and is a specific example of immunohistochemistry (the use of the antibody-antigen relationship in tissues). This technique primarily makes use of fluorophores to visualise the location of the antibodies.Immunofluorescence can be used on tissue sections, cultured cell lines, or individual cells, and may be used to analyze the distribution of proteins, glycans, and small biological and non-biological molecules. This technique can even be used to visualize structures such as intermediate-sized filaments. If the topology of a cell membrane has yet to be determined, epitope insertion into proteins can be used in conjunction with immunofluorescence to determine structures. Immunofluorescence can also be used as a "semi-quantitative" method to gain insight into the levels and localization patterns of DNA methylation since it is a more time consuming method than true quantitative methods and there is some subjectivity in the analysis of the levels of methylation. Immunofluorescence can be used in combination with other, non-antibody methods of fluorescent staining, for example, use of DAPI to label DNA. Several microscope designs can be used for analysis of immunofluorescence samples; the simplest is the epifluorescence microscope, and the confocal microscope is also widely used. Various super-resolution microscope designs that are capable of much higher resolution can also be used.Immunoglobulin G
Immunoglobulin G (IgG) is a type of antibody. Representing approximately 75% of serum antibodies in humans, IgG is the most common type of antibody found in blood circulation. IgG molecules are created and released by plasma B cells. Each IgG has two antigen binding sites.Immunohistochemistry
Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is the most common application of immunostaining. It involves the process of selectively identifying antigens (proteins) in cells of a tissue section by exploiting the principle of antibodies binding specifically to antigens in biological tissues. IHC takes its name from the roots "immuno", in reference to antibodies used in the procedure, and "histo", meaning tissue (compare to immunocytochemistry). Albert Coons conceptualized and first implemented the procedure in 1941.Immunohistochemical staining is widely used in the diagnosis of abnormal cells such as those found in cancerous tumors. Specific molecular markers are characteristic of particular cellular events such as proliferation or cell death (apoptosis).
Immunohistochemistry is also widely used in basic research to understand the distribution and localization of biomarkers and differentially expressed proteins in different parts of a biological tissue.
Visualising an antibody-antigen interaction can be accomplished in a number of ways. In the most common instance, an antibody is conjugated to an enzyme, such as peroxidase, that can catalyse a colour-producing reaction (see immunoperoxidase staining). Alternatively, the antibody can also be tagged to a fluorophore, such as fluorescein or rhodamine (see immunofluorescence).Kell antigen system
The Kell antigen system (also known as Kell–Cellano system) is a group of antigens on the human red blood cell surface which are important determinants of blood type and are targets for autoimmune or alloimmune diseases which destroy red blood cells. Kell can be noted as K, k, or Kp. The Kell antigens are peptides found within the Kell protein, a 93-kilodalton transmembrane zinc-dependent endopeptidase which is responsible for cleaving endothelin-3.Monoclonal antibody
Monoclonal antibodies (mAb or moAb) are antibodies that are made by identical immune cells that are all clones of a unique parent cell. Monoclonal antibodies can have monovalent affinity, in that they bind to the same epitope (the part of an antigen that is recognized by the antibody). In contrast, polyclonal antibodies bind to multiple epitopes and are usually made by several different plasma cell (antibody secreting immune cell) lineages. Bispecific monoclonal antibodies can also be engineered, by increasing the therapeutic targets of one single monoclonal antibody to two epitopes.
Given almost any substance, it is possible to produce monoclonal antibodies that specifically bind to that substance; they can then serve to detect or purify that substance. This has become an important tool in biochemistry, molecular biology, and medicine. When used as medications, non-proprietary drug names end in -mab (see "Nomenclature of monoclonal antibodies") and many immunotherapy specialists use the word mab anacronymically.Western blot
The western blot (sometimes called the protein immunoblot) is a widely used analytical technique used in molecular biology, immunogenetics and other molecular biology disciplines to detect specific proteins in a sample of tissue homogenate or extract.
In brief, the sample undergoes protein denaturation, followed by gel electrophoresis. A synthetic or animal-derived antibody (known as the primary antibody) is created that recognises and binds to a specific target protein. The electrophoresis membrane is washed in a solution containing the primary antibody, before excess antibody is washed off. A secondary antibody is added which recognises and binds to the primary antibody. The secondary antibody is visualised through various methods such as staining, immunofluorescence, and radioactivity, allowing indirect detection of the specific target protein.
Other related techniques include dot blot analysis, quantitative dot blot, immunohistochemistry, and immunocytochemistry where antibodies are used to detect proteins in tissues and cells by immunostaining, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
The name western blot is a play on the eponymously-named Southern blot, a technique for DNA detection developed earlier by Edwin Southern. Similarly, detection of RNA is termed northern blot and was developed by James Alwine, David Kemp, and George Stark at Stanford. The term "western blot" was given to the technique by W. Neal Burnette, although the method itself originated in the laboratory of Harry Towbin at the Friedrich Miescher Institute.