We have analyzed the complexity of a unique tumor-specific transplantation antigen expressed by the murine ultraviolet light-induced fibrosarcoma 1591-RE. This tumor is highly immunogenic and is regularly rejected by normal mice. We have derived a cloned cytolytic T cell line showing a reactivity pattern representative of the cytolytic response of the host rejecting this regressor tumor. Using this T cell line (anti-A), variants of 1591-RE (1591-A-) were selected in vitro that had lost the same antigen as progressor variants of 1591-RE selected by the host in vivo. The in vitro derived variant was then used to generate a second T cell clone (anti-B) that recognized an antigen on the parental tumor that had been retained by the variants derived in vitro. Host-selected progressor variants were also found to have retained this antigen. By selecting for variants in vitro from the parental tumor with the anti-B T cell line, it was shown that the two different antigens (A and B) present on the parental tumor were lost independently of each other. Despite the independence of these two antigens, the host T cell response to the parental regressor tumor was invariably restricted to only the "immunodominant" A antigen.

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