• antibody–antigen interactions;
  • protein–carbohydrate interactions;
  • cross-reactive binding

The near-germline antibody S25-2 exhibits a remarkable cross-reactivity for oligosaccharides containing the bacterial lipopolysaccharide carbohydrate 3-deoxy-D-manno-oct-2-ulosonic acid (Kdo). The recent synthesis of a variety of Kdo analogues permits a detailed structural analysis of the importance of specific interactions in antigen recognition by S25-2. The Kdo disaccharide analogue Kdo-(2[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]4)-5,6-dehydro-Kdo lacks a 5-OH group on the second Kdo residue and has been cocrystallized with S25-2. The structure reveals that the modification of the Kdo residue at position 5 results in a rearrangement of intramolecular hydrogen bonds in the antigen that allows it to assume a novel conformation in the antibody-combining site. The cross-reactive binding of S25-2 to this synthetic ligand highlights the adaptability of this antibody to non-natural synthetic analogues.