Unique single-domain antigen binding fragments derived from naturally occurring camel heavy-chain antibodies.

TitleUnique single-domain antigen binding fragments derived from naturally occurring camel heavy-chain antibodies.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsMuyldermans, S., and M. Lauwereys
JournalJ Mol Recognit
Date Published1999 Mar-Apr
KeywordsAnimals, Binding Sites, Antibody, Camels, Epitopes, Genes, Immunoglobulin, Humans, Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains, Mice, Models, Molecular, Protein Conformation, Species Specificity

The humoral immune response of camels, dromedaries and llamas includes functional antibodies formed by two heavy chains and no light chains. The amino acid sequence of the variable domain of the naturally occurring heavy-chain antibodies reveals the necessary adaptations to compensate for the absence of the light chain. In contrast to the conventional antibodies, a large proportion of the heavy-chain antibodies acts as competitive enzyme inhibitors. Studies on the dromedary immunoglobulin genes start to shed light on the ontogeny of these heavy-chain antibodies. The presence of the heavy-chain antibodies and the possibility of immunizing a dromedary allows for the production of antigen binders consisting of a single domain only. These minimal antigen-binding fragments are well expressed in bacteria, bind the antigen with affinity in the nM range and are very stable. We expect that such camelid single domain antibodies will find their way into a number of biotechnological or medical applications. The structure of the camelid single domain is homologous to the human VH, however, the antigen-binding loop structures deviate fundamentally from the canonical structures described for human or mouse VHs. This has two additional advantages: (1) the camel or llama derived single domain antibodies might be an ideal scaffold for anti-idiotypic vaccinations; and (2) the development of smaller peptides or peptide mimetic drugs derived from of the antigen binding loops might be facilitated due to their less complex antigen binding site.

Alternate JournalJ. Mol. Recognit.
PubMed ID10398404