Germline-Encoded Positional Cysteine Polymorphisms Enhance Diversity in Antibody Ultralong CDR H3 Regions

Gabrielle Warner Jenkins, Yana Safonova, Vaughn V. Smider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Ab “ultralong” third H chain complementarity-determining regions (CDR H3) appear unique to bovine Abs and may enable binding to difficult epitopes that shorter CDR H3 regions cannot easily access. Diversity is concentrated in the “knob” domain of the CDR H3, which is encoded by the DH gene segment and sits atop a b-ribbon “stalk” that protrudes far from the Ab surface. Knob region cysteine content is quite diverse in terms of total number of cysteines, sequence position, and disulfide bond pattern formation. We investigated the role of germline cysteines in production of a diverse CDR H3 structural repertoire. The relationship between DH polymorphisms and deletions relative to germline at the nucleotide level, as well as diversity in cysteine and disulfide bond content at the structural level, was ascertained. Structural diversity is formed through (1) DH polymorphisms with altered cysteine positions, (2) DH deletions, and (3) new cysteines that arise through somatic hypermutation that form new, unique disulfide bonds to alter the knob structure. Thus, a combination of mechanisms at both the germline and somatic immunogenetic levels results in diversity in knob region cysteine content, contributing to remarkable complexity in knob region disulfide patterns, loops, and Ag binding surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2141-2148
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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