Medical Definition of Incomplete antigen
Could be considered an isolated epitope: although a hapten (by definition) has an antibody directed against it, the hapten alone will not induce an immune response if injected into an animal, it must be conjugated to a carrier (usually a protein).
The hapten constitutes a single antigenic determinant, perhaps the best known example is dinitro phenol (DNP) that can be conjugated to BSA and against which antiDNP antibodies are produced (antibodies to the BSA can be adsorbed out).
Because the hapten is monovalent, immune complex formation will be blocked if the soluble hapten is present as well as the hapten carrier conjugate (assuming there is more than one hapten per carrier then an immune precipitate can be formed).
Competitive inhibition by the soluble small molecule is sometimes referred to as haptenic inhibition and this term has carried over into lectin mediated haemagglutination where monosaccharides are added to try to block haemagglutination: the blocking sugar defines the specificity of the lectin.
This entry appears with permission from the Dictionary of Cell and Molecular Biology
(11 Mar 2008)
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