We have previously described an idiotype (Id460) that transiently dominates anti-2,4-dinitrophenyl (DNP) antibody responses of mice that possess the appropriate Igh-V and V kappa genotypes. Normal serum has significant levels of Id460 that does not bind DNP, and hybridomas derived from spleen cell fusions that produce monoclonal antibodies with these characteristics have been generated. Many of these monoclonal, Id460-positive antibodies bind the opportunistic mouse pathogen Pasteurella pneumotropica. P. pneumotropica induces a marked increase in serum Id460 titers without significantly increasing serum anti-DNP titers. Both normal serum and P. pneumotropica-induced Ig460-positive immunoglobulin specifically bind to P. pneumotropica. These results suggest that the normal serum Id460-positive immunoglobulin is induced by environmentally encountered antigens on P. pneumotropica. We propose that this naturally occurring Id460 activates antiidiotypic regulatory cells that in turn promote production of Id460-positive anti-DNP antibody following DNP-ovalbumin immunization. These data are compatible with those obtained in several other idiotypic systems that suggest that dominant idiotypes may be associated with antibodies that have been evolutionarily selected for expression because of their specificity for antigens on environmentally encountered pathogens.

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