Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is characterized by IgG1 and IgG4 autoantibodies to desmoglein (Dsg) 3, causing suprabasal blistering of skin and mucous membranes. IgG4 is the dominant autoantibody subclass in PV and correlates with disease activity, whereas IgG1 can be associated with remittent disease. It is unknown if switching the same variable region between IgG4 and IgG1 directly impacts pathogenicity. Here, we tested whether three pathogenic PV monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from three different patients demonstrate differences in antigen affinity, epitope specificity, or pathogenicity when expressed as IgG1 or IgG4. F706 anti-Dsg3 IgG4 and F779 anti-Dsg3 IgG1, previously isolated as heterohybridomas, and Px43, a monovalent anti-Dsg3/Dsg1 IgG antibody isolated by phage display, were subcloned to obtain paired sets of IgG1 and IgG4 mAbs. Using ELISA and cell surface staining assays, F706 and F779 demonstrated similar antigen binding affinities of IgG1 and IgG4, whereas Px43 showed 3- to 8-fold higher affinity of IgG4 versus IgG1 by ELISA, but identical binding affinities to human skin, perhaps due to targeting of a quaternary epitope best displayed in tissues. All 3 mAb pairs targeted the same extracellular cadherin (EC) domain on Dsg3, caused Dsg3 internalization in primary human keratinocytes, and caused suprabasal blisters in human skin at comparable doses. We conclude that switching IgG1 and IgG4 subclasses of pathogenic PV mAbs does not directly affect their antigen binding or pathogenic properties.
Lo, A. S., Mao, X., Mukherjee, E. M., Ellebrecht, C. T., Yu, X., Posner, M. R., … Cavacini, L. A. (2016). Pathogenicity and epitope characteristics do not differ in IgG subclass-switched anti-desmoglein 3 IgG1 and IgG4 autoantibodies in pemphigus vulgaris. PLoS ONE, 11(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0156800