Characterization and application of two RANK-specific antibodies with different biological activities

Immunol Lett. 2016 Mar:171:5-14. doi: 10.1016/j.imlet.2016.01.003. Epub 2016 Jan 7.


Antibodies play an important role in therapy and investigative biomedical research. The TNF-family member Receptor Activator of NF-κB (RANK) is known for its role in bone homeostasis and is increasingly recognized as a central player in immune regulation and epithelial cell activation. However, the study of RANK biology has been hampered by missing or insufficient characterization of high affinity tools that recognize RANK. Here, we present a careful description and comparison of two antibodies, RANK-02 obtained by phage display (Newa, 2014 [1]) and R12-31 generated by immunization (Kamijo, 2006 [2]). We found that both antibodies recognized mouse RANK with high affinity, while RANK-02 and R12-31 recognized human RANK with high and lower affinities, respectively. Using a cell apoptosis assay based on stimulation of a RANK:Fas fusion protein, and a cellular NF-κB signaling assay, we showed that R12-31 was agonist for both species. R12-31 interfered little or not at all with the binding of RANKL to RANK, in contrast to RANK-02 that efficiently prevented this interaction. Depending on the assay and species, RANK-02 was either a weak agonist or a partial antagonist of RANK. Both antibodies recognized human Langerhans cells, previously shown to express RANK, while dermal dendritic cells were poorly labeled. In vivo R12-31 agonist activity was demonstrated by its ability to induce the formation of intestinal villous microfold cells in mice. This characterization of two monoclonal antibodies should now allow better evaluation of their application as therapeutic reagents and investigative tools.

Keywords: Epithelial microfold cell; Langerhans cell; Monoclonal antibody; RANK (TNFRSF11a).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / isolation & purification
  • Antibody Affinity
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Surface Display Techniques
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Epitopes / metabolism*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Secondary
  • Immunomodulation
  • Intestines / cytology
  • Intestines / drug effects*
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Langerhans Cells / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kappa B / immunology
  • Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Epitopes
  • NF-kappa B
  • Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kappa B
  • TNFRSF11A protein, human
  • Tnfrsf11a protein, mouse