Author(s): Muyldermans S
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Abstract Sera of camelids contain both conventional heterotetrameric antibodies and unique functional heavy (H)-chain antibodies (HCAbs). The H chain of these homodimeric antibodies consists of one antigen-binding domain, the VHH, and two constant domains. HCAbs fail to incorporate light (L) chains owing to the deletion of the first constant domain and a reshaped surface at the VHH side, which normally associates with L chains in conventional antibodies. The genetic elements composing HCAbs have been identified, but the in vivo generation of these antibodies from their dedicated genes into antigen-specific and affinity-matured bona fide antibodies remains largely underinvestigated. However, the facile identification of antigen-specific VHHs and their beneficial biochemical and economic properties (size, affinity, specificity, stability, production cost) supported by multiple crystal structures have encouraged antibody engineering of these single-domain antibodies for use as a research tool and in biotechnology and medicine.
This article was published in Annu Rev Biochem
and referenced in Journal of Cell Science & Therapy