Monoclonal antibodies are reproducible, specific, and cost-effective molecular probes; use outside the laboratory is, however, restricted by technical limitations. Addressing these constraints, the first self-signalling antibodies are now described, where specific antigen binding causes release of bound reporter from bispecific antibodies (BsAb) to generate a detectable signal. The report examines the concept that two different antibody binding sites in close proximity can promote interaction between molecules recognised by these sites, generating a signal by molecular crowding. Signal strength is found to increase with increasing homogeneity for a BsAb reactive with multimeric surfactant antigen; signal response is linear for a BsAb reactive with univalent small analyte deoxypyridinoline. Self-signalling is consistent with intramolecular steric hindrance. This is the first report detailing integration of two different functions, molecular detection and signal response, into BsAbs and with detection of large and small analytes, has generic application to antibody-based systems. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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