Structural basis for the function of anti-idiotypic antibody in immune memory

Mol Immunol. 2009 Mar;46(6):1250-5. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2008.11.019. Epub 2009 Jan 20.


We had earlier proposed a hypothesis to explain the mechanism of perpetuation of immunological memory based on the operation of idiotypic network in the complete absence of antigen. Experimental evidences were provided for memory maintenance through anti-idiotypic antibody (Ab(2)) carrying the internal image of the antigen. In the present work, we describe a structural basis for such memory perpetuation by molecular modeling and structural analysis studies. A three-dimensional model of Ab(2) was generated and the structure of the antigenic site on the hemagglutinin protein H of Rinderpest virus was modeled using the structural template of hemagglutinin protein of Measles virus. Our results show that a large portion of heavy chain containing the CDR regions of Ab(2) resembles the domain of the hemagglutinin housing the epitope regions. The similarity demonstrates that an internal image of the H antigen is formed in Ab(2), which provides a structural basis for functional mimicry demonstrated earlier. This work brings out the importance of the structural similarity between a domain of hemagglutinin protein to that of its corresponding Ab(2). It provides evidence that Ab(2) is indeed capable of functioning as surrogate antigen and provides support to earlier proposed relay hypothesis which has provided a mechanism for the maintenance of immunological memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic / chemistry*
  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic / immunology
  • Epitopes
  • Hemagglutinins, Viral / chemistry*
  • Hemagglutinins, Viral / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / chemistry
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / immunology
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Measles virus
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Rinderpest virus


  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic
  • Epitopes
  • Hemagglutinins, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region