Antibody-mediated catalysis in infection and immunity

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The existence of catalytic antibodies has been known for decades. Natural antibodies capable of cleaving nucleic acid, protein, and polysaccharide substrates have been described. Although the discovery of catalytic antibodies initially aroused great interest because of their promise for the development of new catalysts, their enzymatic performance has been disappointing due to low reaction rates. However, in the areas of infection and immunity, where processes often occur over much longer times and involve high antibody concentrations, even low catalytic rates have the potential to influence biological outcomes. In this regard, the presence of catalytic antibodies recognizing host antigens has been associated with several autoimmune diseases. Furthermore, naturally occurring catalytic antibodies to microbial determinants have been correlated with resistance to infection. Recently, there has been substantial interest in harnessing the power of antibody-mediated catalysis against microbial antigens for host defense. Additional work is needed, however, to better understand the prevalence, function, and structural basis of catalytic activity in antibodies. Here we review the available information and suggest that antibodymediated catalysis is a fertile area for study with broad applications in infection and immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00202-17
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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