The initial step in ricin A-chain (RTA)-immunotoxin-mediated cell cytotoxicity involves binding to the target cell Ag through the antibody moiety. One of the factors influencing this is the affinity of the antibody component for the target cell Ag. Multiple epitopes on carcinoembryonic Ag have been mapped providing a range of mAb of known specificity. These have been used to show that the cytotoxicity of an immunotoxin containing RTA conjugated to an anti-carcinoembryonic Ag mAb (228-RTA) is potentiated by mAb recognizing different epitopes. The potentiating antibodies also increased the level of target cell binding of antibody 228. Cross-linking of cell bound antibody was not involved because monovalent fragments of a potentiating antibody were effective. The potentiating antibodies modified the binding affinity of 228 antibody increasing the t1/2 of antibody at the tumor cell surface. This increased the dwell time of cell bound antibody and using conjugates of 228 linked to albumin-tetramethylrhodamine it was shown to enhance conjugate endocytosis. These investigations indicate that enhanced antibody affinity leads to increased endocytosis of bound immunoconjugate and potentiates cytotoxicity.

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