Targeting Ag to the Fc epsilon RII by Ag-specific IgE has been shown to be an efficient means of enhancing Ag presentation by B cells to Ag-specific T cells. To take advantage of the Fc epsilon RII as a targeting molecule and to investigate whether IgE was required for mediation of the enhanced stimulation, Ag was covalently coupled to anti-Fc epsilon RII by using heterobifunctional crosslinking reagents. These Ag-Ab conjugates were used with T cell lines specific for the Ags, OVA (BB6.5) or rabbit gamma-globulin (CDC35 and D1.6), and splenic B cells to examine both B cell and T cell proliferation in vitro. Significant presentation of Ag-anti-Fc epsilon RII conjugates was apparent at doses of Ag 1,000- to 10,000-fold lower than seen with unconjugated Ag alone. Ag presentation with the use of anti-Fc epsilon RII-Ag conjugates was as good as or better than conjugates with Ab to the adhesion molecule Pgp-1 or control Ab in T cell proliferation and better than those conjugates in B cell proliferation assays (10- to 100-fold). Anti-Fc epsilon RII-Ag conjugates were clearly more effectively presented than Ag-anti-Fc gamma RII conjugates (> 100-fold). Mouse Fc epsilon RII is presently known to be expressed on B cells and follicular dendritic cells and these in vitro results suggest that the conjugates would be useful tools for investigating the role of IgE-mediated B cell Ag presentation in vivo. BALB/c mice immunized with OVA-anti-Fc epsilon RII conjugates made a quite significant OVA-specific IgG1 response and a detectable IgE response. No detectable Ab was produced in response to OVA alone and a minimal response was seen when an isotype-matched control conjugate was used. Thus, the results indicate that Fc epsilon RII targeting is operative both in vivo and in vitro.

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