Previous experiments have resulted in the identification and cloning of 13 nonallelic genes encoding the constant region of rabbit IgA H chains. The genes, C alpha 1 to C alpha 13, were each cloned into an expression vector containing the VDJ gene of a dansyl (DNS)-binding murine hybridoma and the constructs were then transfected into SP2/0 cells that were producing murine kappa-L chains from the DNS-binding hybridoma. Of the 13 resulting transfectomas, 12 were shown, by ELISA, to secrete DNS-binding chimeric rabbit-mouse IgA molecules. These transfectoma antibodies, representing 12 different isotypes, are of high affinity and provide a unique source of Ag-specific IgA for comparison of the functions of the multiple IgA isotypes. One such function for antibodies is activation of C by either the classical or alternative pathway. We have used the DNS-binding IgA transfectoma antibodies in C assays based on binding of rabbit C3 to IgA-Ag complexes in an ELISA. The results demonstrated that all 12 IgA isotypes are capable of activating C by the alternative pathway but that none can activate C by the classical pathway. Control experiments demonstrated that activation was hapten dependent and was not caused by endotoxin contamination. These data demonstrate that Ag-specific IgA molecules, unmodified by heat or chemical aggregation, activate C by the alternative pathway but not by the classical pathway.

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