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Structure. 1994 Dec 15;2(12):1217-26.

Crystal structure of a diabody, a bivalent antibody fragment.

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Centre for Protein Engineering, MRC Centre, Cambridge, UK.



Diabodies are dimeric antibody fragments. In each polypeptide, a heavy-chain variable domain (VH) is linked to a light-chain variable domain (VL) but unlike single-chain Fv fragments, each antigen-binding site is formed by pairing of one VH and one VL domain from the two different polypeptides. Diabodies thus have two antigen-binding sites, and can be bispecific. Direct structural evidence is lacking for the connections and dimeric interactions between the two polypeptides of the diabody.


The 2.6 A resolution structure has been determined for a bivalent diabody with a flexible five-residue polypeptide linker between the (amino-terminal) VH and (carboxy-terminal) VL domains. The asymmetric unit of the crystal consists of four polypeptides comprising two diabodies; for one of these polypeptides the linker can be traced between the VH and VL domains. Within each diabody the two associated VH and VL domains make back-to-back interactions through the VH domains, and there is an extensive VL-VL interface between the two diabodies in the asymmetric unit.


The structure of the diabody is very similar to that which had been predicted by molecular modelling. Diabodies directed against cell-surface antigens should be capable of bringing together two cells, such as in cell-targeted therapy, because the two antigen-binding sites of the diabody are at opposite ends of the molecule and separated by approximately 65 A.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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