Mouse spleen cells cultured in the presence of trinitrophenyl-(TNP)-conjugated proteins such as bovine serum albumin (TNP25–40-BSA) generate T-cytotoxic effector cells which exhibit similar properties to those obtained by sensitization with trinitrobenzene sulfonate-(TNBS)-modified syngeneic cells. Both types of cytotoxic effectors are TNP specific and exhibit H-2K- and/or D-associated recognition.
Studies analyzing the cellular presentation of TNP-BSA indicated that TNP-BSA could be detected on the surface of TNP-BSA-preincubated spleen cells and that such cells could serve as stimulators for the generation of H-2 restricted syngeneic cytotoxic effectors. Depletion of phagocytic cells from spleen cells prior to their incubation with TNP-BSA did not affect their stimulating capacity, indicating that the interaction of the TNP-protein with the cell surface was not mediated by a phagocytic mechanism. However, when both responding and stimulating cell populations were depleted of phagocytic cells, no cytotoxic effector cells were generated either to TNP-BSA or to TNBS-syngeneic cells.