Ab initio structure prediction of the antibody hypervariable H3 loop



Antibodies have the capability of binding a wide range of antigens due to the diversity of the six loops constituting the complementarity determining region (CDR). Among the six loops, the H3 loop is the most diverse in structure, length, and sequence identity. Prediction of the three-dimensional structures of antibodies, especially the CDR loops, is an important step in the computational design and engineering of novel antibodies for improved affinity and specificity. Although it has been demonstrated that the conformation of the five non-H3 loops can be accurately predicted by comparing their sequences against databases of canonical loop conformations, no such connection has been established for H3 loops. In this work, we present the results for ab initio structure prediction of the H3 loop using conformational sampling and energy calculations with the program Prime on a dataset of 53 loops ranging in length from 4 to 22 residues. When the prediction is performed in the crystal environment and including symmetry mates, the median backbone root mean square deviation (RMSD) is 0.5 Å to the crystal structure, with 91% of cases having an RMSD of less than 2.0 Å. When the prediction is performed in a noncrystallographic environment, where the scaffold is constructed by swapping the H3 loops between homologous antibodies, 70% of cases have an RMSD below 2.0 Å. These results show promise for ab initio loop predictions applied to modeling of antibodies. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.