Instruct Centres > Nanobodies4Instruct

The Brussels based Nanobodies4Instruct center produces and characterizes Nanobodies to be used as auxiliary tools in structural and cellular biology

Nanobodies4Instruct

Instruct Flagship Service/Technology

Nanobody Discovery, Brussels, Belgium

Nanobodies are the small (15 kDa) and stable single-domain fragments harboring the full antigen-binding capacity of camelid heavy chain–only antibodies. Nanobodies are exquisite chaperones for crystallizing soluble proteins, membrane proteins, multiprotein assemblies, transient conformational states and intrinsically disordered proteins. Nanobodies can also be used for other applications in structural biology. Domain-specific Nanobodies have been used in single-particle electron microscopy (EM) to track these domains in particle projections. Because Nanobodies can be functionally expressed as intrabodies in eukaryotic cells, these single-domain antibodies can also be used to track their targets inside a living cell.

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Nanobodies4Instruct

The Nanobodies4Instruct centre generates conformational Nanobodies to facilitate the structural analysis of proteins that are notoriously difficult to purify, to crystallize or to study by another method. Collective efforts of several laboratories have demonstrated that Nanobodies are exquisite chaperones for crystallizing complex biological systems such as membrane proteins, transient multiprotein assemblies, transient conformational states and intrinsically disordered proteins. Further, they can be used as structural probes of protein misfolding and fibril formation.


Nanobodies are the small (15 kDa) and stable single-domain fragments harboring the full antigen-binding capacity of the original heavy chain–only antibodies that naturally occur in camelids. Nanobodies are encoded by single gene fragments, they are easily produced in microorganisms and they exhibit a superior stability compared with derivatives of conventional antibodies such as Fabs or scFvs. Because of their compact prolate shape, Nanobodies expose a convex paratope and have access to cavities or clefts on the surface of proteins.


Innovative applications of Nanobodies in in situ fluorescence imaging, mass spectrometry, NMR, electron microscopy and tomography, X-ray imaging or other relevant biophysical methods will be explored in an integrated fashion within the most multidisciplinary projects selected by the Instruct framework. Because many Nanobodies can be functionally expressed as intrabodies in eukaryotic cells, these single-domain antibodies can also be used as biosensors to track conformational properties of their targets inside a living cell.


The Nanobodies4Instruct centre is an initiative of the Steyaertlab. The Steyaertlab is located in Brussels and is part of the Structural Biology Research Center (SBRC) at the Vrije Universeit Brussel (VUB) and the Vlaams Instituut Biotechnologie (VIB). Nanobodies4Instruct is supported for the Flemish Participation in ESFRI by the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO).

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Our labs our on the grounds of the Etterbeek Campus of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). We are located close to downtown Brussels and can be easily reached by train, tram, metro and car. All our labs and offices are in the E-building, on the 7th floor. In case you've never been here, the maps below will help you out.

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