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Immunoglobulin G subclass switching impacts sensitivity of an immunoassay targeting Francisella tularensis Iipopolysaccharide
Gates-Hollingsworth, Marcellene A.
Crump, Reva B.
Reed, Dana E.
AuCoin, David P.
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The CDC Tier 1 select agent Francisella tularensis is a small, Gram-negative bacterium and the causative agent of tularemia, a potentially life-threatening infection endemic in the United States, Europe and Asia. Currently, there is no licensed vaccine or rapid point-of care diagnostic test for tularemia. The purpose of this research was to develop monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) specific to the F. tularensis surface-expressed lipopolysaccharide (LPS) for a potential use in a rapid diagnostic test. Our initial antigen capture ELISA was developed using murine IgG3 mAb 1A4. Due to the low sensitivity of the initial assay, IgG subclass switching, which is known to have an effect on the functional affinity of a mAb, was exploited for the purpose of enhancing assay sensitivity. The ELISA developed using the IgG1 or IgG2b mAbs from the subclass-switch family of 1A4 IgG3 yielded improved assay sensitivity. However, surface plasmon resonance (SPR) demonstrated that the functional affinity was decreased as a result of subclass switching. Further investigation using direct ELISA revealed the potential self-association of 1A4 IgG3, which could explain the higher functional affinity and higher assay background seen with this mAb. Additionally, the higher assay background was found to negatively affect assay sensitivity. Thus, enhancement of the assay sensitivity by subclass switching is likely due to the decrease in assay background, simply by avoiding the self-association of IgG3.