Antibodies: A Tool for Molecular Biology
- Fig. 1: Structure of an antibody: heavy chains in blue and red, light chains in green and yellow
- Fig. 2: In situ hybridization of the Cannabinoid receptor Type 1 (Cnr1) coding mRNA. An antisense RNA with a Digoxigenin (DIG) tag is visualized usind an AP coupled anti-DIG antibody.
- Fig. 3: Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) of ALU sequences (green signals) in (female) human lymphocytes. ALU sequences are highly repetitive sequences in gene-rich chromosomal regions. DNA counterstaining in red. Bolzer et al., PLoS Biol 3(5) (2005)
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Antibodies are immunoglobulins, which build an important component of an organism‘s immune system. They are produced by B lymphocytes, a specialized type of white blood cells.
When foreign macromolecules enter the body, antibodies are produced to identify and to tag invading macromolecules for elimination by other parts of the immune system. Each antibody recognizes very specifically a particular epitope (a 3 dimensional surface structure build by a certain amino-acid sequence) on its antigen (the foreign macromolecule). This makes antibodies interesting tools in molecular biology because by their aid proteins of interest can be identified in a crude mixture of many proteins. Proteins of interest can be visualized and quantified using antibodies.