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EMBO J. 1992 Feb;11(2):603-9.

Immunoglobulin VH clan and family identity predicts variable domain structure and may influence antigen binding.

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Division of Developmental and Clinical Immunology, University of Alabama, Birmingham 35294.


Mammalian immunoglobulin VH families can be grouped into three distinct clans based upon sequence conservation in two of the three framework (FR) intervals. Through replacement/silent site substitution analysis, molecular modeling and mathematical evaluation of known immunoglobulin crystal structures, we demonstrate that this conservation reflects preservation of protein sequence and structure. Each clan contains a characteristic FR 1 interval that is solvent-exposed and structurally separated from the antigen binding site. Families within a clan contain their own unique FR 3 interval that is capable of either influencing the conformation of the antigen binding site or interacting directly with antigen. Our results provide a structural context for theories that address differential use of VH families in the immune response.

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