Antibody molecules mark antigens for destruction, but they also carry out complex chemical reactions, the importance of which has been unclear. In November 14 Sciencexpress, Paul Wentworth Jr. and colleagues at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, USA, show that antibodies catalyze the generation of ozone, leading to efficient bacterial killing, regardless of the antigen specificity of the antibody (Sciencexpress, 10.1126 /science.1077642, November 14, 2002).

Wentworth et al. added sheep antibodies to in vitro cultures of Escherichia coli in the presence of a singlet molecular oxygen (1O2*) generating system that would not, on its own, kill bacteria. They observed that the antibodies catalyzed a water-oxidation pathway that produced an additional molecular species with a chemical signature similar to that of ozone. In addition, they showed that in an in vivo model, this species was generated during the oxidative burst of activated...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?