An increasing proportion of our research at OPIG is about the structure and function of antibodies. Compared to other types of proteins, there is a large number of antibody structures publicly available in the PDB (approximately 1.8% of structures contain an antibody chain). For those of us working in the fields of antibody structure prediction, antibody-antigen docking and structure-based methods for therapeutic antibody design, this is great news!
However, we find that these data are not in a standard format with respect to antibody nomenclature. For instance, which chains are “heavy” chains and which are “light“? Which heavy and light chains pair? Is there an antigen present? If so, to which H-L pair does it bind to? Which numbering system is used … etc.
To address this problem, we have developed SAbDab: the Structural Antibody Database. Its primary aim is for easy creation of antibody structure and antibody-antigen complex datasets for further analysis by researchers such as ourselves. These sets can be selected using a number of criteria (e.g. experimental method, species, presence of constant domains…) and redundancy filters can be applied over the sequences of both the antibody and antigen. Thanks to Jin, SAbDab now also includes associated curated affinity (Kd) values for around 190 antibody-antigen complexes. We hope this will serve as a benchmarking tool for antibody-antigen docking prediction algorithms.
Alternatively, the database can be used to inspect and compare properties of individual structures. For instance, we have recently published a method to characterise the orientation between the two antibody variable domains, VH and VL. Using the ABangle tool, users can select structures with a particular VH-VL orientation, visualise and quantify conformational changes (e.g. between bound and unbound forms) and inspect the pose of structures with certain amino acids at specific positions. Similarly, the CDR (complimentary determining region) search and clustering tools, allow for the antibody hyper-variable loops to be selected by length, type and canonical class and their structures visualised or downloaded.
SAbDab also contains features such as the template search. This allows a user to submit the sequence of either an antibody heavy or light chain (or both) and to find structures in the database that may offer good templates to use in a homology modelling protocol. Specific regions of the antibody can be isolated so that structures with a high sequence identity over, for example, the CDR H3 loop can be found. SAbDab’s weekly automatic updates ensures that it contains the latest available data. Using each method of selection, the structure, a standardised and re-numbered version of the structure, and a summary file containing information about the antibody, can be downloaded both individually or en-masse as a dataset. SAbDab will continue to develop with new tools and features and is freely available at: opig.stats.ox.ac.uk/webapps/sabdab.