PLoS ONE (Jan 2016)

Generation of Recombinant Monoclonal Antibodies from Immunised Mice and Rabbits via Flow Cytometry and Sorting of Antigen-Specific IgG+ Memory B Cells.

  • Dale O Starkie,
  • Joanne E Compson,
  • Stephen Rapecki,
  • Daniel J Lightwood

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 3
p. e0152282


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Single B cell screening strategies, which avoid both hybridoma fusion and combinatorial display, have emerged as important technologies for efficiently sampling the natural antibody repertoire of immunized animals and humans. Having access to a range of methods to interrogate different B cell subsets provides an attractive option to ensure large and diverse panels of high quality antibody are produced. The generation of multiple antibodies and having the ability to find rare B cell clones producing IgG with unique and desirable characteristics facilitates the identification of fit-for-purpose molecules that can be developed into therapeutic agents or research reagents. Here, we describe a multi-parameter flow cytometry single-cell sorting technique for the generation of antigen-specific recombinant monoclonal antibodies from single IgG+ memory B cells. Both mouse splenocytes and rabbit PBMC from immunised animals were used as a source of B cells. Reagents staining both B cells and other unwanted cell types enabled efficient identification of class-switched IgG+ memory B cells. Concurrent staining with antigen labelled separately with two spectrally-distinct fluorophores enabled antigen-specific B cells to be identified, i.e. those which bind to both antigen conjugates (double-positive). These cells were then typically sorted at one cell per well using FACS directly into a 96-well plate containing reverse transcriptase reaction mix. Following production of cDNA, PCR was performed to amplify cognate heavy and light chain variable region genes and generate transcriptionally-active PCR (TAP) fragments. These linear expression cassettes were then used directly in a mammalian cell transfection to generate recombinant antibody for further testing. We were able to successfully generate antigen-specific recombinant antibodies from both the rabbit and mouse IgG+ memory B cell subset within one week. This included the generation of an anti-TNFR2 blocking antibody from mice with an affinity of 90 pM.