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Antigenicity of fullerenes: Antibodies specific for fullerenes and their characteristics

  • B.-X. Chen
  • S. R. Wilson
  • M. Das
  • D. J. Coughlin
  • B. F. Erlanger
The National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
Sep 01, 1998
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


The recent interest in using Buckminsterfullerene (fullerene) derivatives in biological systems raises the possibility of their assay by immunological procedures. This, in turn, leads to the question of the ability of these unprecedented polygonal structures, made up solely of carbon atoms, to induce the production of specific antibodies. Immunization of mice with a C60 fullerene derivative conjugated to bovine thyroglobulin yielded a population of fullerene-specific antibodies of the IgG isotype, showing that the immune repertoire was diverse enough to recognize and process fullerenes as protein conjugates. The population of antibodies included a subpopulation that crossreacted with a C70 fullerene as determined by immune precipitation and ELISA procedures. These assays were made possible by the synthesis of water-soluble fullerene derivatives, including bovine and rabbit serum albumin conjugates and derivatives of trilysine and pentalysine, all of which were characterized as to the extent of substitution and their UV-Vis spectra. Possible interactions of fullerenes with the combining sites of IgG are discussed based on the physical chemistry of fullerenes and previously described protein-fullerene interactions. They remain to be confirmed by the isolation of mAbs for x-ray crystallographic studies.

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