Antibody Design by Man and Nature

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Science  21 Jun 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5576, pp. 2247-2249
DOI: 10.1126/science.296.5576.2247

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Catalytic antibodies have emerged as being without peer as rationally designed biocatalysts. They have been shown to catalyze an ever-increasing array of chemical reactions with both high substrate specificity and selectivity. Probing the immune repertoire, via an expanding number of techniques, has lead to the production of proteins that can catalyze chemistry that is both difficult to perform using existing chemical methods and that is not catalyzed by endogenous enzymes. Remarkably, recent evidence has pointed to a hitherto unknown catalytic function of all antibodies that seems to be intrinsic to their immunoglobulin structure, the conversion ofOinto HO. This new catalytic potential of antibodies points to a new 'chemical arm' of the immune system and reveals that the evolution of catalytic antibodies significantly predates their rational design.