Antibody Structure Problem Set

Problem 7. Weak forces/ strong binding

The interaction between an antigen and antibody can be very strong, and yet all of the forces involved are considered to be relatively weak. How can weak hydrogen bonds, electrostatic attractions, hydrophobic forces, and van der Waals contacts lead to a high affinity?

A. Weak attractions lead to the formation of covalent bonds.
B. Since the antigen is contacted by the antibody over a very limited surface area, several weak forces can form a strong attraction.

Contact between antigen and antibody occurs over a wide surface area, allowing multiple weak interactions that give a strong affinity.

Hydrogen bonds join the antibody and antigen over a wide surface area. Other weak forces, including van der Waals forces, electrostatic attractions and hydrophobic forces, add to the strength and specificity of antibody/antigen binding.

The Biology Project
The University of Arizona
Tuesday, June 20, 2000
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