Antibody informatics, a part of immunoinformatics, refers to the concepts, databases, and tools developed and used to explore and to analyze the particular properties of the immunoglobulins (IG) or antibodies, compared with conventional genes and proteins. Antibody informatics is based on a unique ontology, IMGT-ONTOLOGY, created in 1989 by IMGT, the international ImMunoGeneTics information system (http://www.imgt.org). IMGT-ONTOLOGY defined, for the first time, the concept of ‘genes’ for the IG and the T cell receptors (TR), which led to their gene and allele nomenclature and allowed their entry in databases and tools. A second IMGT-ONTOLOGY revolutionizing and definitive concept was the IMGT unique numbering that bridged the gap between sequences and structures for the variable (V) and constant (C) domains of the IG and TR, and for the groove (G) domains of the major histocompatibility (MH). These breakthroughs contributed to the development of IMGT databases and tools for antibody informatics and its diverse applications, such as repertoire analysis in infectious diseases, antibody engineering and humanization, and study of antibody/antigen interactions.
Nucleotide sequences of antibody V domains from deep sequencing (Next Generation Sequencing or High Throughput Sequencing) are analyzed with IMGT/HighV-QUEST, the high-throughput version of IMGT/V-QUEST and IMGT/JunctionAnalysis. Amino acid sequences of V and C domains are represented with the IMGT/Collier-de-Perles tool and analyzed with IMGT/DomainGapAlign. Three-dimensional (3D) structures (including contact analysis and paratope/epitope) are described in IMGT/3Dstructure-DB. Based on a friendly interface, IMGT/mAb-DB contains therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (INN suffix-mab) that can be queried on their specificity, for example, in infectious diseases, on bacterial or viral targets.