Several idiotypic (Id) specificities have been identified by immunofluorescence on the membranes of B cells in the spleens of nonimmune mice. These determinants are displayed at frequencies varying from 0.22 to 1.83% of B cells and are entirely immunoglobulin (Ig) in nature. No Id determinants were observed on the membranes of four Slg- Abelson virus-transformed pre-B cell lines that are sensitive to LPS. Under our experimental conditions, we did not observe a significant increase in 3H-thymidine incorporation subsequent to the in vitro incubation of splenic lymphocytes from normal mice with various amounts of anti-Id antibodies specific for several cross-reactive (IdX) or individual Id. Similarly, in utero exposure to anti-Id antibodies against myeloma proteins specific for T-independent antigens displaying B cell mitogenic properties did not alter the proliferation of lymphocytes induced by these mitogens. In contrast, exposure to anti-Id antibodies in vitro as well as in utero had a profound and specific effect on the corresponding antibody responses and maturation of small lymphocytes into plasma cells. When normal B cells were cultured with the B cell mitogen LPS in the presence of anti-Id antibodies directed against the J558IdX, specific suppression of the maturation of IdX+ plasma cells was observed. In mice exposed to maternal anti-Id in utero, we observed a severe inability to mount an immune response to any compound that elicited antibody molecules bearing the Id that was complementary to the maternal anti-Id. These same maternally Id-suppressed mice, however, gave a normal response when the same compound was presented as a mitogen. Our results reinforce the concept that Id on membranes of B lymphocytes are associated only with Ig receptors and do not support the possibility of mitogen-like poly-clonal stimulatory properties of anti-Id antibodies.

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