We have previously described (1-3) an IgM antibody that binds to PC, expresses the T15 idiotype, and binds also to itself or T15 if insolubilized. Because of the simultaneous presence of complementary idiotopes and paratopes this type of antibody has been termed autobody. The self binding involves the antigen-binding site because the F(ab')2 fragment of T15, PC, and no other haptens inhibit the self binding. DNA sequence analysis of 11E7-1 using primer extension cDNA sequencing showed that the variable sequences of H and L chains of 11E7-1 are identical to the germline sequence of the prototype T15 idiotype. Furthermore, monomeric and dimeric T15 IgA were shown to bind to insolubilized T15 and other T15+ antibodies including 11E7-1. Thus, the self-binding activity is an inherent property of the T15 germline sequence. The self binding is highly dependent on the polymeric state of the binding antibody since the IgM pentamer of 11E7-1 is about three fold more effective than the T15 dimer and 50 times more than the T15 monomer. These data suggest that the self-binding activity of a germline-encoded idiotype may play an important role in the biology of its expression, and more specifically, may be responsible for the establishment of its dominant expression.

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