Structural trends in antibody-antigen binding interfaces: a computational analysis of 1833 experimentally determined 3D structures

Andreas V. Madsen, Oscar Mejias-Gomez, Lasse E. Pedersen, J. Preben Morth, Peter Kristensen, Timothy P. Jenkins, Steffen Goletz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Antibodies are attractive therapeutic candidates due to their ability to bind cognate antigens with high affinity and specificity. Still, the underlying molecular rules governing the antibody-antigen interface remain poorly understood, making in silico antibody design inherently difficult and keeping the discovery and design of novel antibodies a costly and laborious process. This study investigates the characteristics of antibody-antigen binding interfaces through a computational analysis of more than 850,000 atom-atom contacts from the largest reported set of antibody-antigen complexes with 1833 nonredundant, experimentally determined structures. The analysis compares binding characteristics of conventional antibodies and single-domain antibodies (sdAbs) targeting both protein- and peptide antigens. We find clear patterns in the number antibody-antigen contacts and amino acid frequencies in the paratope. The direct comparison of sdAbs and conventional antibodies helps elucidate the mechanisms employed by sdAbs to compensate for their smaller size and the fact that they harbor only half the number of complementarity-determining regions compared to conventional antibodies. Furthermore, we pinpoint antibody interface hotspot residues that are often found at the binding interface and the amino acid frequencies at these positions. These findings have direct potential applications in antibody engineering and the design of improved antibody libraries.

Original languageEnglish
JournalComputational and Structural Biotechnology Journal
Pages (from-to)199-211
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • In silico
  • Antibody
  • Single-domain antibody
  • SdAb
  • Therapeutic
  • Computational
  • Paratope
  • Epitope
  • Structure
  • Antibody engineering


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