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Nature. 1992 Nov 26;360(6402):369-72.

The three-dimensional structure of an intact monoclonal antibody for canine lymphoma.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of California Riverside 92521.


Crystal structures of Fab antibody fragments determined by X-ray diffraction characteristically feature four-domain, beta-barrel arrangements. A human antibody Fc fragment has also been found to have four beta-barrel domains. The structures of a few intact antibodies have been solved: in two myeloma proteins, the flexible hinge regions that connect the Fc to the Fab segments were deleted so the molecules were non-functional, structurally restrained, T-shaped antibodies; a third antibody, Kol, had no hinge residues missing but the Fc region was sufficiently disordered that it was not possible to relate its disposition accurately with respect to the Fab components. Here we report the structure at 3.5 A resolution of an IgG2a antitumour monoclonal antibody which contains an intact hinge region and was solved in a triclinic crystal by molecular replacement using known Fc and Fab fragments. The antibody is asymmetric, reflecting its dynamic character. There are two local, apparently independent, dyads in the molecule. One relates the heavy chains in the Fc, the other relates the constant domains of the Fabs. The variable domains are not related by this 2-fold axis because of the different Fab elbow angles of 159 degrees and 143 degrees. The Fc has assumed an asymmetric, oblique orientation with respect to loosely tethered yet almost collinear Fabs. Our study enables the two antigen-binding segments as well as the Fc portion of a functional molecule to be visualized and illustrates the flexibility of these immune response proteins.

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