Fcε receptor (CD23)-mediated capture of IgE-antigen complexes by B cells provides a powerful antigen presenting system. Our goal was to develop a system using high affinity, human, organ-specific monoclonal autoantibodies for antigen capture by B cells. For this purpose, we converted a recombinant human autoantibody to TPO from a Fab (SP1.4) to an IgE molecule. Sera from all patients with autoimmune thyroid disease contain autoantibodies with the same epitope as SP1.4. The SP1.4 H and L chain V region genes were spliced by overlap PCR to a mammalian, non-immunoglobulin signal peptide and transferred to expression vectors for human IgG1 and κ, respectively. After inserting the IgE constant region genes into the H chain vector, the K and IgE H chain vectors were expressed in SP2/0 cells. SP14-IgE retains its high affinity (K(d)) for TPO (~2 x 10-10 M), recognizes the same epitope as Fab SP1.4 and, importantly, binds to a different epitope than does Fab TR1.9. Binding of preformed complexes of SP1.4-IgE and biotinylated TPO to EB virus transformed B cells (EBVL) was weakly detectable by flow cytometry and was displaced by unlabeled TPO. SP1.4-IgE/125I-TPO complex binding to EBVL was much more clearly evident, was also inhibited by the addition of unlabeled TPO, and was greatly reduced by preincubation of the EBVL with anti-CD23. Further, autologous EBVL preincubated with SP14-IgE/TPO complexes stimulated proliferation of TPO-specific T cells. IgE autoantibody-mediated antigen focusing to B cells is unlikely to operate in vivo but is, instead, a powerful investigative tool. In conclusion, SP1.4-IgE is the first monoclonal human autoantibody to be developed for IgE-mediated antigen presentation to T cells by EBVL. Recombinant human autoantibodies converted to IgE, possibly in combinations if their epitopes permit simultaneous binding to the same molecule, provide a unique system to generate human T cell lines and clones specific for peptides naturally processed from internalized high affinity autoantibody/autoantigen complexes.
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