Magazine article Science News

Turning Antibodies into Chemists

Magazine article Science News

Turning Antibodies into Chemists

Article excerpt

Turning antibodies into chemists

To create exquisitely specific tools for future chemical missions ranging from destroying viruses to building new proteins, scientists have been teaching antibodies to act like enzymes.

Antibodies recognize and bind to particular chemical structures -- usually molecular intruders in the body -- with a specificity unmatched in the world's molecular menagerie. By luring chemical starting materials, or reactants, and then helping them overcome initial energy barriers, enzymes rapidly trigger thousands of biologically crucial chemical transformations.

Since 1986 scientists have been reporting ways of conferring the reaction-speeding skills of enzymes to antibodies, which also specifically bind reactant molecules while ignoring all others. Most efforts so far have involved making stable molecular analogs that chemically resemble a reaction's so-called "transition state," a fleeting molecular structure chemists believe must form before reactants can change into products. By injecting these analogs into mice, scientists can use the animals' immune systems as factories for making catalytic antibodies with binding pockets that custom-fit the actual transition state of the reactant molecules. Once bound in this way, reactants quickly rearrange into products.

Peter G. SChultz of the University of California, Berkeley, reports new tactics for fitting the antibodies' binding sites with additional chemical features that could enable scientists to make many more catalytic antibodies tailored for almost any chemical transformation. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.