Progress and challenges in mass spectrometry-based analysis of antibody repertoires

Trends Biotechnol. 2021 Sep 14;S0167-7799(21)00193-1. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2021.08.006. Online ahead of print.


Humoral immunity is divided into the cellular B cell and protein-level antibody responses. High-throughput sequencing has advanced our understanding of both these fundamental aspects of B cell immunology as well as aspects pertaining to vaccine and therapeutics biotechnology. Although the protein-level serum and mucosal antibody repertoire make major contributions to humoral protection, the sequence composition and dynamics of antibody repertoires remain underexplored. This limits insight into important immunological and biotechnological parameters such as the number of antigen-specific antibodies, which are for example, relevant for pathogen neutralization, microbiota regulation, severity of autoimmunity, and therapeutic efficacy. High-resolution mass spectrometry (MS) has allowed initial insights into the antibody repertoire. We outline current challenges in MS-based sequence analysis of antibody repertoires and propose strategies for their resolution.

Keywords: B cell receptor; antibody repertoire; bioinformatics; high-throughput sequencing; immunoglobulin; mass spectrometry; proteomics.

Publication types

  • Review