Hapten are small-molecules, that can only become immunogenic when conjugated with a carrier protein. I was wondering if all small-molecules can become haptens (eg. by synthetic conjugation). Given that lymphocytes are filtered by negative selection, I would expect that small-molecules that chemically mimic self-peptides would not work as haptens (at least not in the sense, that they could be detected by antibodies).

Are there any examples of small-molecules that have been tried as haptens but could not generate antibodies ?

Also is there any estimate of the ratio of naturally occuring haptens and synthetic haptens. I was investigating the IEDB (https://www.iedb.org/) as well as SuperHapten (http://bioinformatics.charite.de/superhapten/) but could not find a way to filter these two types of haptens.

  • $\begingroup$ What does this question mean? A Hapten is a molecule that exhibited a carrier response when bonded to a carrier protein. Not every molecule relates to the immune system so obviously no. If you are saying that any immune protein can be a hapten, then still no, because the point is that the response only occurs when bound to the carrier. This is how small molecules, which are precise enough to have biological action, can have an effect where needed. If the protein always has an immune response it will waste itself unnecessarily and the carrier is what brings it to where it needs to be to do its $\endgroup$
    – user62020
    Sep 30, 2020 at 11:26


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