Domain antibodies: proteins for therapy

Trends Biotechnol. 2003 Nov;21(11):484-90. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2003.08.007.


Occurring naturally in "heavy chain" immunoglobulins from camels, and now produced in fully human form, domain antibodies (dAbs) are the smallest known antigen-binding fragments of antibodies, ranging from 11 kDa to 15 kDa. dAbs are the robust variable regions of the heavy and light chains of immunoglobulins (VH and VL respectively). They are highly expressed in microbial cell culture, show favourable biophysical properties including solubility and temperature stability, and are well suited to selection and affinity maturation by in vitro selection systems such as phage display. dAbs are bioactive as monomers and, owing to their small size and inherent stability, can be formatted into larger molecules to create drugs with prolonged serum half-lives or other pharmacological activities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / chemistry
  • Antibodies / genetics
  • Antibodies / pharmacology*
  • Antibodies / therapeutic use
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / chemistry
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / genetics
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / pharmacology*
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / therapeutic use
  • Peptide Library
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology


  • Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region
  • Peptide Library
  • Recombinant Proteins