The classical complement system represents a central effector mechanism of Abs initiated by the binding of C1q to target bound IgG. Human C1q contains six heterotrimeric globular head groups that mediate IgG interaction, resulting in an avidity-driven binding event involving multiple IgG molecules binding a single C1q. Accordingly, surface bound IgG molecules are thought to assemble into noncovalent hexameric rings for optimal binding to the six-headed C1q. To study the C1q–Fc interaction of various Abs and screen for altered C1q binding mutants, we developed, to our knowledge, a novel HPLC-based method. Employing a single-chain form of C1q representing one C1q head group, our HPLC methodology was able to detect the interaction between the single-chain monomeric form of C1q and various ligands. We show that, despite a narrow window of specific binding owing to the low affinity of the monomeric C1q–IgG interaction, this approach clearly distinguished between IgG subclasses with established C1q binding properties. IgG3 displayed the strongest binding, followed by IgG1, with IgG2 and IgG4 showing the weakest binding. Fc mutants known to have increased C1q binding through oligomerization or enhanced C1q interaction showed greatly increased column retention, and IgG glycovariants displayed a consistent trend of increasing retention upon increasing galactosylation and sialylation. Furthermore, the column retention of IgG isotypes and glycovariants matches both the cell surface recruitment of C1q and complement-mediated cytotoxicity induced by each variant on an anti-CD20 Ab backbone. This methodology therefore provides a valuable tool for testing IgG Ab (glyco)variants for C1q binding, with clear relevance for therapeutic Ab development.

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