Rabbit hybridoma

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A rabbit hybridoma is a hybrid cell line formed by the fusion of an antibody producing rabbit B cell with a cancerous B-cell (myeloma).


The rabbit immune system has been documented as a vehicle for developing antibodies with higher affinity and more diverse recognition of many molecules including phospho-peptides, carbohydrates and immunogens that are not otherwise immunogenic in mouse.[1] However, until recently, the type of antibodies available from rabbit had been limited in scope to polyclonal antibodies. Several efforts were made to generate rabbit monoclonal antibodies after the development of mouse hybridoma technology in the 1970s.[2] Research was conducted into mouse-rabbit hetero-hybridomas to make rabbit monoclonal antibodies.[1][3] However, these hetero-hybridomas were ultimately difficult to clone, and the clones, generally unstable, and did not secrete antibody over a prolonged period of time.

Initial fusion partner[edit]

In 1995, Katherine Knight and her colleagues, at Loyola University of Chicago, succeeded in developing a double transgenic rabbit over-expressing the oncogenes v-abl and c-myc under the control of the immunoglobulin heavy and light chain enhancers. The rabbit formed a myeloma-like tumor, allowing the isolation of a plasmacytoma cell line, named 240E-1. Fusion of 240E-1 cells with rabbit lymphocytes produced hybridomas that secreted rabbit monoclonal antibodies in a consistent manner.[4] However, like the early mouse myeloma lines developed in the 1970s, stability was a concern. A number of laboratories which had received the 240E-1 cell line from Dr. Knight’s laboratory reported stability problems with the fusion cell line 240E-1.[5]

Improved fusion partner[edit]

In 1996, Weimin Zhu and Robert Pytela, at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), obtained 240E-1 from Dr. Knight’s laboratory and attempted to develop an improved rabbit hybridoma.[4] Improvements in the characteristics of 240E-1 were accomplished by repeated subcloning, selection for high fusion efficiency, robust growth, and morphological characteristics such as a bright appearance under a phase contrast microscope. Selected subclones were further tested for their ability to produce a stable hybridoma and monoclonal antibody secretion. After multiple rounds of subcloning and selection processes, a new cell line named 240E-W, was identified and which expressed better fusion efficiency and stability. Cell line 240E-W has since been further developed and optimized for production of rabbit monoclonal antibodies for research and commercial applications.


The process of hybridoma formation in a rabbit first entails obtaining B-cells from a rabbit that has been immunized. There are numerous immunization protocols for rabbit, notably for the generation of polyclonal antibodies.[6][7][8] After immunization, B-cells are fused with a candidate rabbit fusion partner cell line to form hybridomas. Resulting antibodies from hybridomas are screened for an antigen which meets criteria of interest by diagnostic tests such as ELISA, Western blot, Immunohistochemistry and FACS. The resulting hybrdomas may be subcloned to ensure monoclonal characteristics.


  1. ^ a b Raybould, T.; Takahashi, M (1988). "Production of stable rabbit-mouse hybridomas that secrete rabbit mAb of defined specificity". Science. 240 (4860): 1788–90. Bibcode:1988Sci...240.1788R. PMID 3289119. doi:10.1126/science.3289119. 
  2. ^ Collins, J. J.; Black, P. H.; Strosberg, A. D.; Haber, E.; Bloch, K. J. (1974). "Transformation by Simian Virus 40 of Spleen Cells from a Hyperimmune Rabbit: Evidence for Synthesis of Immunoglobulin by the Transformed Cells". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 71 (2): 260–262. Bibcode:1974PNAS...71..260C. JSTOR 62751. PMC 387981Freely accessible. PMID 4150020. doi:10.1073/pnas.71.2.260. 
  3. ^ Mei-Chang, Kuo; Soon, John A.; Max, Edward E.; Kindt, Thomas J. (1985). "Rabbit-mouse hybridomas secreting intact rabbit immunoglobulin". Molecular Immunology. 22 (4): 351–9. PMID 4033662. doi:10.1016/0161-5890(85)90119-1. 
  4. ^ a b Spieker-Polet, H; Sethupathi, P; Yam, PC; Knight, KL (1995). "Rabbit monoclonal antibodies: Generating a fusion partner to produce rabbit-rabbit hybridomas". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 92 (20): 9348–52. Bibcode:1995PNAS...92.9348S. PMC 40982Freely accessible. PMID 7568130. doi:10.1073/pnas.92.20.9348. 
  5. ^ Liguori, Michael J.; Hoff-Velk, Jane A.; Ostrow, David H. (2001). "Recombinant Human Interleukin-6 Enhances the Immunoglobulin Secretion of a Rabbit–Rabbit Hybridoma". Hybridoma. 20 (3): 189–98. PMID 11461668. doi:10.1089/027245701750293529. 
  6. ^ Howard GC and Kaser MR, editors. Making and using antibodies: a practical handbook. CRC Press; 2007
  7. ^ Harlow E and Lane D. Antibodies: A Laboratory Manual. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; 1988.
  8. ^ Coligan JE, Kruisbeek AM, et al. editors. Current protocols in immunology. Greene and Wiley; 1994.

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