Using the fluorescence activated cell sorter to select rare IgG2a- and IgG2b-producing variants, we developed switch variant families of hybridomas from IgG1-producing hybridomas, ME1 and MA2.1. The IgG2a and IgG2b antibodies produced by such switch variants have the same binding activities for HLA as the IgG1 antibodies produced by the parent hybridomas. Using these antibodies, we directly compared the IgG1, IgG2a, and IgG2b murine Ig isotypes for their capacities to direct human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) in antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) against a B lymphoblastoid cell line. We demonstrate that, for antibodies of identical binding affinity and specificity, the murine IgG2a isotype is the most effective in directing ADCC by human effector cells. The murine IgG2b directs intermediate levels of ADCC activity while IgG1 is inactive. We identified the effector cells in human PBL that mediate IgG2a or IgG2b ADCC as nonadherent killer (K) cells. These cells express the C3bi receptor and have cytolytic activity which is specifically blocked by a monoclonal antibody (anti-Leu-11a) that binds the Fc receptor (FcR) of such cells. Finally, FcR-bearing K cells bind to target cell-bound, rather than free, IgG2a or IgG2b molecules.

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