Since IgG subclasses differ in their ability to activate complement, we investigated the role of human IgG subclasses on antibody functional activity.
We constructed chimeric MAbs in which three different murine fHbp-specific binding domains were each paired with human IgG1, IgG2, or IgG3. Against a wild-type group B isolate, all three IgG3 MAbs, irrespective of their ability to inhibit fH binding, had bactericidal activity that was >5-fold higher than the respective IgG1 MAbs, while the IgG2 MAbs had the least activity.
Against a mutant with increased fHbp expression, the anti-fHbp MAbs elicited greater C4b deposition (classical pathway) and greater bactericidal activity than against the wild-type strain, and the IgG1 MAbs had similar or greater activity than the respective IgG3 MAbs. The bactericidal activity against both wild-type and mutant strains also was dependent, in part, on activation of the alternative complement pathway. Thus, at lower epitope density in the wild-type strain, the IgG3 anti-fHbp MAbs had the greatest bactericidal activity.
At a higher epitope density in the mutant, the IgG1 MAbs had similar or greater bactericidal activity than the IgG3 MAbs, and the activity was less dependent on the inhibition of fH binding than at a lower epitope density.