Porter approached the problem of antibody structure by using an enzyme,
papain, to cleave the blood's immunoglobulin molecule into functionally
different fragments, which were then amenable to structural analysis.
Edelman, working independently, used different methods to break up the
molecule, and concluded that rather than a single chain of amino acids,
it was a multichain entity. Porter and his research team were then able
to determine the now universally accepted four-chain model of the antibody.
Using his fragmentation technique, Porter studied the chains of the
molecule separately, while Edelman worked on the whole molecule. By
1969 a complete model of the molecule, comprising more than 1,300 amino
acids, had been achieved.
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