Fusion of myeloma cells and B lymphocytes to form hybridomas which produce monoclonal antibodies has been a major advance1-3, but the poor efficiency and randomness of viral or polyethylene glycol fusion techniques generally gives poor yields of specific, high affinity antibodies. High voltage electrical fields with dielectrophoresis to ensure cell alignment can fuse a limited number of cells under direct microscopic examination4-9, but it is not possible to identify B-cells destined to secrete relevant antibodies. However, B-cells express, on their surface, antigen receptor immunoglobulins of the same antigenic specificity as the secreted antibodies. Binding of antigen to surface immunoglobulins stimulates proliferation and differentiation of B-cells into plasma cells. Here we report the use of the selective, high affinity interaction of antigen with surface immunoglobulins on B-cells to facilitate a close adherence to myeloma cells. The antigen, covalently conjugated to avidin, binds to the surface immunoglobulins on B-cells. This B-cell-antigen-avidin complex binds to biotin covalently attached to the surface of myeloma cells. An intense electric field across a bulk cell suspension then produces selective fusion of cells in contact, that is, of myeloma cells with B-cells which make the appropriate antibody. We have used this technique with several antigens, and all resultant hybridomas secrete appropriate antibodies with very high affinity.
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