The mouse Thy-1 glycoprotein of normal and transformed lymphoid cells was studied with regard to amount per cell, apparent m.w., and glycosylation characteristics. Thy-1 was measured by a solid-phase radioimmunoassay calibrated with pure mouse brain Thy-1. Thymocytes were shown to contain five times the amount of Thy-1 found in lymph node cells (1 X 10(6) vs 2 X 10(5) molecules per cell), whereas the T cell lymphomas studied (P52-127-166, RBL-5, YWA, Y191, Y274, YAC-1, RL male 1, and BW5147) varied in their Thy-1 content. The apparent m.w. of Thy-1, as determined by SDS-PAGE, was in all cases 25,000 to 30,000. However, the appearance of the Thy-1 bands revealed a size heterogeneity that was less pronounced with material from lymph node cells than from thymocytes. This band broadening seemed to be inversely correlated to the affinity for lentil lectin. Whereas half the Thy-1 molecules from thymocytes were bound to the lectin, lymph nodes Thy-1 showed 75% binding. All T lymphomas but one (BW5147) contained Thy-1 also heterogeneous in lentil lectin binding. The charge, previously shown to be dependent on the sialic acid content, was shifted to more acidic forms for lymph node Thy-1 compared to thymocytes. The T lymphomas possessed Thy-1 with charge properties similar to those of the thymocytes; the only exception was BW5147, which showed more basic forms. These results show that the expression and the glycosylation of Thy-1 is altered when thymocytes mature into immunocompetent cells and after malignant transformation of lymphocytes.

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