Human Monoclonal Antibodies against Blood Group Antigens Preferentially Express a VH4‐21 Variable Region Gene‐Associated Epitope
An anti-idiotypic antibody has been raised which recognizes human immunoglobulins with cold agglutinin activity of anti-I/i specificity. The pattern of reactivity of the antibody indicates that the structural basis for the epitope is located in the VH4-21 gene segment of the VHIV family, which is preferentially utilized by these cold reactive antibodies. Using this antibody, epitope expression was investigated in a panel of 72 human monoclonal allo-antibodies specific for human blood group antigens, as compared with a control panel of 39 randomly selected human monoclonal IgM antibodies of unknown specificities. The anti-blood group panel included 44 IgM and 28 IgG monoclonal antibodies against a variety of blood group antigens including the A antigen, Rh C, c, D, E, e, G antigens, and the Kidd antigens Jka and Jkb. The epitope was expressed by 64% (28/44) of the IgM anti-blood group antibodies and by 21% (6/28) of the IgG antibodies, but by only 7.7% (3/39) of the control IgM antibodies. These data indicate that the human alloimmune response to blood group antigens is biased in the use of VH gene families, with a preference for the VH4-21 gene segment of the VHIV family, or closely related gene segments. The fact that this mirrors the findings for the autoimmune cold agglutinins suggests a link in immunoglobulin gene usage between antibodies against structurally diverse antigens on the red cell surface.