MOTIVATION: Antibodies or immunoglobulins are proteins of paramount importance in the immune system. They are extremely relevant as diagnostic, biotechnological and therapeutic tools. Their modular structure makes it easy to re-engineer them for specific purposes. Short of undergoing a trial and error process, these experiments, as well as others, need to rely on an understanding of the specific determinants of the antibody binding mode. RESULTS: In this article, we present a method to identify, on the basis of the antibody sequence alone, which residues of an antibody directly interact with its cognate antigen. The method, based on the random forest automatic learning techniques, reaches a recall and specificity as high as 80% and is implemented as a free and easy-to-use server, named prediction of Antibody Contacts. We believe that it can be of great help in re-design experiments as well as a guide for molecular docking experiments. The results that we obtained also allowed us to dissect which features of the antibody sequence contribute most to the involvement of specific residues in binding to the antigen. AVAILABILITY: http://www.biocomputing.it/proABC. CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
The DIGIT (Database of ImmunoGlobulins with Integrated Tools) database (http://biocomputing.it/digit) is an integrated resource storing sequences of annotated immunoglobulin variable domains and enriched with tools for searching and analyzing them. The annotations in the database include information on the type of antigen, the respective germline sequences and on pairing information between light and heavy chains. Other annotations, such as the identification of the complementarity determining regions, assignment of their structural class and identification of mutations with respect to the germline, are computed on the fly and can also be obtained for user-submitted sequences. The system allows customized BLAST searches and automatic building of 3D models of the domains to be performed.
The antigen-binding site of immunoglobulins is formed by six regions, three from the light and three from the heavy chain variable domains, which, on association of the two chains, form the conventional antigen-binding site of the antibody. The mode of interaction between the heavy and light chain variable domains affects the relative position of the antigen-binding loops and therefore has an effect on the overall conformation of the binding site. In this article, we analyze the structure of the interface between the heavy and light chain variable domains and show that there are essentially two different modes for their interaction that can be identified by the presence of key amino acids in specific positions of the antibody sequences. We also show that the different packing modes are related to the type of recognized antigen.
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