Polyreactive antibodies (Abs) constitute a major proportion of the early Ab repertoire and are an important component of the natural defense mechanisms against infections. They are primarily immunoglobulin M (IgM) and bind a variety of structurally dissimilar self and exogenous antigens (Ags) with moderate affinity. We analyzed the contribution of Ig polyvalency and of heavy (H) and light (L) chain variable (V) regions to polyreactivity in recombinatorial experiments involving the VH-diversity(D)-JH and V kappa-J kappa gene segments of a human polyreactive IgM, monoclonal antibody 55 (mAb55), and those of a human monoreactive anti-insulin IgG, mAb13, in an in vitro C gamma l and C kappa human expression system. These mAbs are virtually identical in their VH and V kappa gene segment sequences. First, we expressed the VH-D-JH and V kappa-J kappa genes of the IgM mAb55 as V segments of an IgG molecule. The bivalent recombinant IgG Ab bound multiple Ags with an efficiency only slightly lower than that of the original decavalent IgM mAb55, suggesting that class switch to IgG does not affect the Ig polyreactivity. Second, we coexpressed the mAb55-derived H or kappa chain with the mAb13-derived kappa or H chain, respectively. The hybrid IgG Ab bearing the mAb55-derived H chain V segment paired with the mAb13-derived kappa V segment, but not that bearing the mAb13-derived H chain V segment paired with the mAb55-derived kappa V segment, bound multiple Ags, suggesting that the Ig H chain plays a major role in the Ig polyreactivity. Third, we shuffled the framework 1 (FR1)-FR3 and complementarity determining region 3 (CDR3) regions of the H and kappa chain V segments of the mAB55-derived IgG molecule with the corresponding regions of the monoreactive IgG mAb13. The mAb55-derived IgG molecule lost polyreactivity when the H chain CDR3, but not the FR1-FR3 region, was replaced by the corresponding region of mAb13, suggesting that within the H chain, the CDR3 provides the major structural correlate for multiple Ag-binding. This was formally proved by the multiple Ag-binding of the originally monoreactive mAb13-derived IgG molecule grafted with the mAb55-derived H chain CDR3. The polyreactivity of this chimeric IgG was maximized by grafting of the mAb55-derived kappa chain FR1-FR3, but not that of the kappa chain CDR3.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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