Immunoglobulin gene fragments encoding the variable modules of the heavy and light chains of a transmissible gastroenteritis coronavirus (TGEV)-neutralizing monoclonal antibody (MAb) have been cloned and sequenced. The selected MAb recognizes a highly conserved viral epitope and does not lead to the selection of neutralization escape mutants. The sequences of MAb 6A.C3 kappa and gamma 1 modules were identified as subgroup V and subgroup IIIC, respectively. The chimeric immunoglobulin genes encoding the variable modules from the murine MAb and constant modules of human gamma 1 and kappa chains were constructed by reverse transcriptase PCR. Chimeric immunoglobulins were stably or transiently expressed in murine myelomas or COS cells, respectively. The secreted recombinant antibodies had radioimmunoassay titers (i.e., the highest dilution giving a threefold increase over the background) higher than 10(3) and reduced the infectious virus more than 10(4)-fold. Recombinant dimeric immunoglobulin A (IgA) showed a 50-fold enhanced neutralization of TGEV relative to a recombinant monomeric IgG1 which contained the identical antigen binding site. Stably transformed epithelial cell lines which expressed either recombinant IgG or IgA TGEV-neutralizing antibodies reduced virus production by > 10(5)-fold after infection with homologous virus, although a residual level of virus production (< 10(2) PFU/ml) remained in less than 0.1% of the cells. This low-level persistent infection was shown not to be due to the selection of neutralization escape mutants. The implications of these findings for somatic gene therapy with recombinant antibodies are discussed
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