Several libraries of monoclonal antibodies have been produced by immunization of Balb/c mice with single cell suspensions of nontrypsin-treated human hepatocellular carcinoma cell (HCC) lines in order to study the antigenic properties of transformed hepatocytes. The antibodies were characterized with regards to specificity for hepatoma-associated antigens and their capability for use as reagents in radioimmunoassays (RIAs) and tumor localization in vivo. Three such antibodies namely, P215457, PM4E9917, P232524 of the IgG2a, IgG2a, and IgG1 isotypes, respectively, not only recognized separate and distinct antigenic determinants on four human hepatoma cell lines but also reacted with epitopes present on chemically induced rat hepatoma cell lines. In contrast, only 1 of 38 other human malignant and transformed cell lines demonstrated reactivity with the three antibodies; normal human tissues were also found to be unreactive. Monoclonal antibody P215457 densely stained the plasma membrane by indirect immunofluorescence, showed rapid binding activity to HCC cells in suspension, and precipitated a 50,000-mol wt cell surface protein; antibody PM4E9917 also stained the plasma membrane and precipitated a 65,000-mol wt protein, whereas P232534 recognized cytoplasmic antigenic determinants. With these antibodies "simultaneous sandwich" RIAs were established that detect soluble hepatoma-associated antigens in culture supernatants. Finally, the Fab fragment of P215457 was found to be useful in tumor localization in vivo. This antibody fragment when labeled with 131I was shown to localize by radionuclide-imaging studies in human hepatoma grown in nude mice. Thus, these investigations demonstrate that monoclonal antibodies may be produced against epitopes that reside almost exclusively on transformed hepatocytes and such antibodies may be successfully employed in the development of in vitro and in vivo immunoassays.
R I Carlson, E Ben-Porath, D Shouval, W Strauss, K J Isselbacher, J R Wands