Questions About Cancer? 1-800-4-CANCER

Understanding Cancer Series

  • Posted: 01/28/2005
  • Reviewed: 09/01/2006

Slide 10

:

Antibody

Each antibody is made up of two identical heavy chains and two identical light chains, shaped to form a Y.

The sections that make up the tips of the Y's arms vary greatly from one antibody to another; this is called the variable region. It is these unique contours in the antigen-binding site that allow the antibody to recognize a matching antigen, much as a lock matches a key.

The stem of the Y links the antibody to other participants in the immune defenses. This area is identical in all antibodies of the same class--for instance, all IgEs--and is called the constant region.

Antibody