Binding of C1q to target-bound IgG initiates complement-mediated lysis (CML) of pathogens, as well as of malignant or apoptotic cells, and thus constitutes an integral part of the innate immune system. Despite its prominent molecular flexibility and higher C1q binding affinity compared with human IgG1, IgG3 does not consistently promote superior CML. Hence the aim of this study was to investigate underlying molecular mechanisms of IgG1-and IgG3-driven complement activation using isotype variants of the therapeutic epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) Ab cetuximab. Both IgG1 and IgG3 Abs demonstrated similar EGFR binding and similar efficiency in Fab-mediated effector mechanisms. Whereas anti-EGFR-IgG1 did not promote CML of investigated target cells, anti-EGFR-IgG3 triggered significant CML of some, but not all tested cell lines. CML triggered by anti-EGFR-IgG3 negatively correlated with expression levels of the membrane-bound complement regulatory proteins CD55 and CD59, but not CD46. Notably, anti-EGFR-IgG3 promoted strong C1q and C3b, but relatively low C4b and C5b-9 deposition on analyzed cell lines. Furthermore, anti-EGFR-IgG3 triggered C4a release on all cells but failed to induce C3a and C5a release on CD55/CD59 highly expressing cells. RNA interference-induced knockdown or overexpression of membrane-bound complement regulatory proteins revealed CD55 expression to be a pivotal determinant of anti-EGFR-IgG3-triggered CML and to force a switch from classical complement pathway activation to C1q-dependent alternative pathway amplification. Together, these data suggest human anti-EGFR-IgG3, although highly reactive with C1q, to weakly promote assembly of the classical C3 convertase that is further suppressed in the presence of CD55, forcing human IgG3 to act mainly through the alternative pathway.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)