Background on Immunoprecipitation
Immuno is a prefix that means you are talking about immunity. Immunity is how the body is protected against pathogens. The immune system has a system for recognizing foreign objects, then a system for combating the presence of the foreign object. For example in humans, T-cells are a type of immune cell that recognizes antigens, structures or molecules that are foriegn. Another important immune molecule is the antibody. Antibodies are shaped like the letter Y, and the two arms of the top of the Y recognize antigens. The specific part of an antigen that is recognized is called the epitope. The antibody recognizes the epitope by its structure and sequence of amino acids. This antibody-antigen interaction serves to help the body recognize antigens. When the interaction is strong enough, it also serves as a way to neutralize antigens. Another important aspect of antibodies is that they can have highly specific interactions with an epitope, and this interaction is strong as well, also known as a high affinity interaction. These two traits, the specificity and affinity, make antibodies a great tool as well! Let’s talk more about using antibodies for a particular tool, immunoprecipitation.