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J Mol Biol. 1999 Dec 17;294(5):1191-201.

Mutational analysis of the affinity maturation of antibody 48G7.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


The affinity maturation of antibody 48G7 from its germline predecessor 48G7g has been studied at a molecular level through a combination of structural and biochemical means. Each of the nine somatic mutations accumulated during affinity maturation has been assessed for gain or loss of function in both the germline and affinity-matured antibodies. Individual somatic mutations were found to be either positive or neutral in their effects on affinity for hapten JWJ1, with a marked context-dependence for some sites of mutation. In a number of cases significant cooperativity was found between pairs of somatically mutated residues. Interpretation of the structural changes introduced by many of the point mutations has been possible due to the availability of high-resolution crystal structures of 48G7g and 48G7, and mechanisms by which these structural changes may result in enhanced affinity for hapten have been identified. Precise dissection of structure-function relationships in this system provides additional insights into the role of cooperativity in the evolution of antibody affinity. Comparison of 48G7 with previously characterized systems provides a varied view of the structure-function mechanisms by which the humoral immune system produces large increases in affinity.

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