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An "epitomic" analysis of the specificity of conformation-dependent, anti-Aß amyloid monoclonal antibodies.


Antibodies against Aß amyloid are indispensable research tools and potential therapeutics for Alzheimer's disease. They display several unusual properties, such as specificity for aggregated forms of the peptide, the ability to distinguish polymorphic aggregate structures, and the ability to recognize generic aggregation-related epitopes formed by unrelated amyloid sequences. Understanding the mechanisms underlying these unusual properties and the structures of their corresponding epitopes is crucial for the understanding why antibodies display different therapeutic activities and for the development of more effective therapeutic agents. Here we employed a novel "epitomic" approach to map the fine structure of the epitopes of 28 monoclonal antibodies against amyloid-beta using immunoselection of random sequences from a phage display library, deep sequencing, and pattern analysis to define the critical sequence elements recognized by the antibodies. Although most of the antibodies map to major linear epitopes in the amino terminal 1 to 14 residues of Aß, the antibodies display differences in the target sequence residues that are critical for binding and in their individual preferences for nontarget residues, indicating that the antibodies bind to alternative conformations of the sequence by different mechanisms. Epitomic analysis also identifies discontinuous, nonoverlapping sequence Aß segments that may constitute the conformational epitopes that underlie the aggregation specificity of antibodies. Aggregation-specific antibodies recognize sequences that display a significantly higher predicted propensity for forming amyloid than antibodies that recognize the monomer, indicating that the ability of random sequences to aggregate into amyloid is a critical element of their binding mechanism.

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