We describe a quantitative method of analysis for assessing stability of human monoclonal antibody production by hybridomas. Clones derived from fusion between the SHM-D33 heteromyeloma line and EBV-stimulated human lymphocytes were studied for antbody presence using a fluorescent labelling technique. Frequencies of antibody-negative variants in clonal populations were measured and measurements on parallel clonal populations were subjected to Luria-Delbrück fluctuation analysis to compute rates of generations of antibody-negative cells. Independent hybridoma clones exhibited a range of stabilities and the corresponding rates varied between 5 × 10-4and 6 × 10-2cell-1generation-1. Rates of generation of antibody-negative variants for the more stable heteromyeloma hybridomas compared well with those of 2 established mouse hybridoma lines tested (< 10-3cell-1generation-1). There was a positive correlation between frequency of antibody-negative variants measured in clonal populations grown to large numbers of cells ( >107per culture) and their rate of loss of antibody production. Large variations in frequency of antibody-negative variants were observed in parallel clonal populations, suggesting that loss of ability to produce antibody is due to random, mutation-like events including chromosome loss (Luria and Delbrück, 1943). High frequencues of antibody-negative variants may indicate imminent oss of antibody-producing capacity by a clone growing in suspension culture. © 1985.
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