The WA cross-idiotype (XId) is the major XId among human monoclonal rheumatoid factors (mRF) and is almost always associated with the light (L) chain XId, 17.109, and the heavy (H) chain XId, G6. A cell line, 35G6, was cloned that bears the WA XId, but shows no reactivity with immunoglobulin G (IgG) and is negative for the 17.109 and G6 XIds. The 35G6 L chain appears to be derived from the same VKIII-JKI genes as most WA mRFs L chains. In contrast to the WA mRFs H chains in which VH1 genes are used, the 35G6 IgM expresses a VH3 gene. Sequence comparisons with other WA XId-positive mRF suggested several common structural features that may be related to the WA XId and differences that may relate to lack of IgG reactivity. Cells similar to 35G6 have previously been described in pokeweed mitogen-stimulated cell lines of peripheral blood lymphocytes from normal individuals and patients with rheumatoid arthritis and type II mixed cryoglobulinemia. These observations were confirmed, and in addition, it was shown that the majority of WA XId-positive cells in these cultures were negative for the 17.109 and G6 XIds. The presence of the WA XId in the absence of IgG reactivity suggests that the WA XId is more directly associated with an antigen specificity other than IgG, and its association with RF activity may be incidental. It is postulated that these WA XId-positive RF-negative antibodies may serve a physiologic role as natural antibodies to a pervasive pathogen, and that IgG reactivity is a consequence of somatic diversification accompanying proliferation of the WA XId-positive RF-negative cell.

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