Several variables influence the potency of an immunotoxin (IT) prepared with a monoclonal antibody (mAb) and ricin A chain (IT-A). These include the affinity of the mAb, the nature and density of the target antigen (Ag), the epitope on the target Ag bound by the mAb, the type of cell target, and the rate of endocytosis and route of internalization of the bound IT-A. In a previous report, we demonstrated that anti-δ mAbs directed against epitopes which are putatively more proximal to the plasma membrane make more effective IT-As than those directed against epitopes that are putatively more distal from the plasma membrane. It is known that the latter mAbs cross-link sIgD less effectively than the former. Therefore, in the present study, we determined whether the differential cytotoxicity of IT-As directed against these epitopes is related to their ability to cross-link their specific surface antigen (sIgD). We further determined whether they were internalized at different rates by normal B cells. Our results show that neither cross-linking nor rate of internalization account for the different potencies of anti-Fc vs anti-Fd IT-As. However, when these IT-As were used in the presence of the lysosomotropic agent chloroquine, the less potent IT-A became 100-fold more potent and was as cytotoxic as the effective anti-Fc IT-A. Taken together with the results of other studies, these findings further support the hypothesis that the epitope specificity of a given mAb may be an important factor in determining the intracellular routing of an IT-A after internalization.
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