Neonatal injection of CBA/HT6T6 (H-2k, Mlsb) mice with adult, Mls-incompatible (CBA/J [H-2k, Mlsd] X CBA/HT6T6)F1 spleen cells results in the abrogation of cell proliferation and interleukin 2 (IL 2) production in bulk mixed lymphocyte cultures, when spleen cells from the inoculated mice are tested at 6 to 8 wk of age with stimulator cells expressing the Mlsd of the tolerizing inoculum. In limiting dilution assays, this tolerant state was manifested in a 25- to 550-fold (280-fold average) decrease in the frequency of precursors of Mlsd-responsive IL 2-producing T cells. Tolerance was specific in that the frequencies of precursors of IL 2-producing cells responding to Con A, allogeneic H-2d, and self-Ia were not affected. The observed low frequency of Mls-responsive cells was due neither to extensive chimerism resulting in the dilution of Mlsd-responsive cells by the nonresponsive F1 cells of the inoculum, nor to the action of suppressor cells. These findings indicate that neonatal injection of Mls-incompatible spleen cells produces a state of specific tolerance by a clonal deletion or inactivation mechanism. This specific tolerance supports the view that 1) the Mls locus encodes or regulates the expression of defined alloantigenic determinants and 2) Mls-incompatible responder mice have specific receptors for Mls determinants on clonally distributed IL 2-producing responder T cells.

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