Evolving Catalysts in Real Time

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Science  23 Feb 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5252, pp. 1078-1079
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5252.1078


During an immune response, the immunoglobulin M gene of B lymphocytes is subject to somatic hypermutation, ultimately resulting in higher affinity antibodies. In this issue of Science, the crystal structure of a catalytic antibody bound to a transition state analog (Patten et al., p. 1086) sheds light on how this increase in affinity occurs. The mutations are found in areas of the protein that do not contact the antigen directly, but rather in areas that support and stabilize the binding surface in its optimal state for binding to the antigen.