We report in this paper the generation and characterization of three monoclonal antibodies, designated alpha BL1, alpha BL2, and alpha BL3, that recognize distinctive antigens unrelated to complement, Fc, and mouse erythrocyte rosette receptors, which are preferentially expressed on B lymphocytes. alpha BL1 recognizes a heat stable nonimmunoprecipitable antigen, possibly glycolipid in nature. Alpha BL2 recognizes a nonreducible single polypeptide with a m.w. of 68,000 that occasionally co-precipitates with a p29,34 complex of HLA-DR antigens. Alpha BL3 recognizes a nonreducible single polypeptide with a m.w. of 105,000 with an acidic pI point. We demonstrated that BL1 is expressed on fetal liver hematopoietic cells, a small subset (5 to 15%) of Ficoll-Hypaque-separated normal bone marrow cells, and on a subpopulation of nonadherent, non-E rosette-forming cells and granulocytes. BL2 is expressed on fetal liver hematopoietic cells, on 3 to 7% of normal bone marrow cells, and on a majority (40 to 70%) of nonadherent, non-E rosette-forming cells with a distinctive pattern similar to that of HLA-DR. BL3 is expressed on a subpopulation of nonadherent, non-E rosette-forming cells, and on occasional cells in the monocyte-enriched adherent cell population. The peak fluorescence for BL2 is substantially higher than that of BL1 and BL3, indicating higher BL2 antigen density. All three antigens are absent from thymocytes and E rosette-positive T cell fractions obtained from various lymphoid tissues. Cellular distribution of the BL antigens on various well-characterized established hematopoietic cell lines, leukemias, and malignant lymphomas, in conjunction with the results of the in vitro activation and TPA-induction experiments, suggest that BL1 is expressed during early developmental stages of B cell differentiation, whereas BL3 is expressed at the later stages. BL2 expression spans immature and mature stages of B cell differentiation, with the exception of mature plasma cells. The alpha BL antibodies described here should prove to be useful in the investigation of B cell differentiation and in the clinical diagnosis of lymphoid neoplasms.

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