Methods in Molecular Biology Volume 748, 2011, pp 209-225

CELLISA: Reporter Cell-Based Immunization and Screening of Hybridomas Specific for Cell Surface Antigens

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Abstract

Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) specific for cell surface antigens are an invaluable tool to study immune receptor expression and function. Here, we outline a generalized reporter cell-based approach to the generation and high-throughput screening of mAbs specific for cell surface antigens. Termed CELLISA, this technology hinges upon the capture of hybridoma supernatants in mAb arrays that facilitate ligation of an antigen of interest displayed on BWZ reporter cells in the form of a CD3ζ-fusion chimeric antigen receptor (zCAR); in turn, specific mAb-mediated cross-linking of zCAR on BWZ cells results in the production of β-galactosidase enzyme (β-gal), which can be assayed colorimetrically. Importantly, the BWZ reporter cells bearing the zCAR of interest may be used for immunization as well as screening. In addition, serial immunizations employing additional zCAR- or native antigen-bearing cell lines can be used to increase the frequency of the desired antigen-specific hybridomas. Finally, the use of a cohort of epitope-tagged zCAR (e.g., zCARFLAG) variants allows visualization of the cell surface antigen prior to immunization, and coimmunization using these variants can be used to enhance the immunogenicity of the target antigen. Employing the CELLISA strategy, we herein describe the generation of mAb directed against an uncharacterized natural killer cell receptor protein.