Protocol

Epitope Mapping Protocols

Volume 524 of the series Methods in Molecular Biology™ pp 3-20

Date:

What Is a B-Cell Epitope?

  • Marc H.V. Van RegenmortelAffiliated withEcole Supérieure de Biotechnologie de Strasbourg, Pôle API, Boulevard Sebastien Brandt Email author 

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Summary

The antigenicity of proteins resides in different types of antigenic determinants known as continuous and discontinuous epitopes, cryptotopes, neotopes, and mimotopes. All epitopes have fuzzy boundaries and can be identified only by their ability to bind to certain antibodies. Antigenic cross-reactivity is a common phenomenon because antibodies are always able to recognize a considerable number of related epitopes. This places severe limits to the specificity of antibodies. Antigenicity, which is the ability of an epitope to react with an antibody, must be distinguished from its immunogenicity or ability to induce antibodies in a competent vertebrate host. Failure to make this distinction partly explains why no successful peptide-based vaccines have yet been developed. Methods for predicting the epitopes of proteins are discussed and the reasons for the low success rate of epitope prediction are analyzed.

Key words

Continuous epitope Discontinuous epitope Mimotope Cryptotope Neotope Prediction of epitopes Antigenic cross-reactivity Antibody specificity Immunogenicity Peptide-based vaccines