The fate of antibody (Ab) LL1, which reacts with the invariant chain (Ii) subunit of the immature MHC class-II antigen (CD74) after binding to the surface of B-cell lymphomas was investigated. This Ab was internalized and catabolized very rapidly, much faster than other Abs that are considered to be rapidly internalized, such as CD19, CD22 and anti-(transferrin receptor). Such internalization did not depend on Ab cross-linking. The capacity of this uptake process was determined in long-term experiments by increasing the Ab concentration: in 1 day, approx. 8×106 Ab molecules per cell were catabolized. This analysis was facilitated by the use of radiolabels that are trapped within cells after catabolism of the Abs to which they were conjugated. If the Ab is a reliable marker for the Ii antigen, which is likely, we can conclude that Ii directed to the cell surface appears to be sufficient, indeed more than sufficient, to account for the cell content of mature class-II molecules.

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