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Nature. 1988 Oct 6;335(6190):564-8.

Structure of antibody hypervariable loops reproduced by a conformational search algorithm.

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Cellular and Molecular Research Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114.

Erratum in

  • Nature 1988 Nov 17;;336(6196):266.


The antigen-combining site of antibody molecules consists of six separate loops supported by a conserved beta-sheet framework; antibody specificity arises from length and sequence variation of these 'hypervariable' loops and can be manipulated by transferring sets of loops between different frameworks. Irregular loops are the most difficult parts of protein structure to understand and to model correctly. Here, we describe two computer experiments where all the hypervariable loops were deleted from X-ray structures of mouse immunoglobulins and reconstructed using the conformational search program CONGEN. A protocol was developed for reconstruction of the hypervariable loops in McPC 603 antibody. Calculated loop conformations were generated and a model of the combining site was built from selected low-energy conformations. We then modelled hypervariable loops in another antibody molecule, HyHEL-5. Both models agreed well with the known crystal structures. Our results hold out promise for the success of future modelling studies of complete antigen-combining sites from amino acid sequences.

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