Nanobodies, Single-Domain Antigen-Binding Fragments of Camelid Heavy-Chain Antibodies

  • Gholamreza Hassanzadeh Ghassabeh
  • Serge Muyldermans
  • Dirk Saerens
Part of the Biotechnology: Pharmaceutical Aspects book series (PHARMASP, volume XI)


Antibodies or immunoglobulins are glycoproteins produced by B-cells and play a central role in host immune defense. Antibodies can be elicited virtually against any substance. Moreover, the immune response to any given antigen can be diverse, comprising different antibodies exhibiting different affinities and/or epitope specificities. Due to their antigen specificity, high affinity and almost the limitless repertoire diversity, antibodies have placed themselves among the most attractive reagents for both fundamental and applied sciences.

Conventional antibodies are multimers of heavy (H) and light (L) chains, each chain consisting of variable (V) and constant (C) domains (Porter 1973; Padlan 1994). Naturally, in a conventional antibody, the variable region of the light chain (VL) and the variable region of the heavy chain (VH) combine to make the antigen binding site, although, in some cases, the heavy chain alone can also bind antigen (Utsumi and Karush 1964). The constant domains of antibodies are not involved in antigen recognition; the heavy chain constant regions CH2 and CH3 (Fc) are responsible for effector functions, which trigger the elimination of antigens (Fig. 3-1a) (Dwek et al. 1984; Burton 1985).


Immobilize Metal Affinity Chromatography Recombination Signal Sequence Variant Surface Glycoprotein Conventional Antibody Versus Gene Segment 



Constant domain of the heavy chain


Fragment antigen binding


Fragment variable


Heavy chain


Heavy-chain antibody


Light chain


Single chain fragment variable


Variable domain of the heavy chain of the conventional antibodies


Variable domain of the heavy chain of the heavy-chain antibodies


Variable domain of the light chain of the conventional antibodies


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Copyright information

© American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gholamreza Hassanzadeh Ghassabeh
    • 1
  • Serge Muyldermans
    • 1
  • Dirk Saerens
    • 1
  1. 1.VIB, Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, Vrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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