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J Mol Biol. 1992 Apr 20;224(4):913-8.

Improving the antigen affinity of an antibody Fv-fragment by protein design.

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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, U.K.


The affinity of an antibody for its ligand 2-phenyloxazolone was improved by protein design. For the design two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, protein engineering and molecular modelling were used in an interactive scheme. Initially the binding site was localized with the help of transferred nuclear Overhauser enhancement signals from two, site specifically assigned tyrosine side-chains in the complementarity-determining regions of the antibody to the ligand 4-glycyl-2-phenyloxazolone. On their basis the hapten was placed into a model of the Fv-fragment built according to the principles of canonical antibody structures. From the model, unfavourable contacts between hapten and an aspartyl side-chain in complementarity-determining region 3 of the heavy chain were predicted. Substitution of the aspartyl residue by alanine resulted in a threefold increase in affinity of the antibody Fv-fragment for two hapten derivatives when compared with the wild-type. Nuclear magnetic resonance analysis of the improved Fv-fragment revealed an interaction between the alpha-carbon proton of alanyl residue with the ligand, which was not seen for the aspartyl residue. This interaction is not entirely in accordance with the model, which predicts an interaction between the side-chain of this residue and the hapten. However, it shows that by combined use of nuclear magnetic resonance analysis and molecular modelling, a residue that is critical for antigen binding was identified, whose mutation allowed the design of an improved antibody combining site.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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