The Effects of Somatic Mutation on the Binding Affinities of Antibodies in a HUG Transgene Model.
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There is a plethora of different foreign substances (antigens) that the humoral immune system needs to recognize in order to sustain life. The resultant need for antibody diversity is fulfilled, in part, by somatic mutation. Somatic mutation is the random point mutation of antibody genes due to interaction with an antigen. Random point mutations in the variable region of antibody genes can change the effectiveness with which an antibody binds to an antigenic epitope (affinity). It is hypothesized that somatic mutations induced by encounters with an antigen result in antibodies with increased affinity. My research tests this hypothesis by analyzing the affinity and avidity of somatically mutated transgenic antibodies. Our goal is to determine whether or not a transgenic immunoglobulin can undergo somatic mutation and affinity maturation.