I-A antigens isolated from SJL reticulum cell sarcoma (RCS) cells show greater heterogeneity with respect to charge and size of the A alpha chains than do I-A antigens isolated from normal SJL spleen cells. The relevance of these structural changes in RCS I-A to the previously shown syngeneic T cell stimulatory properties of RCS was investigated. It was shown that RCS cells expressed acidic forms of the A alpha chain on their cell surface which were not present on SJL spleen cells, peritoneal cells, or dendritic cells. The only normal cells which showed A alpha chain heterogeneity approaching that of RCS cells were LPS-induced B cell blasts. Treatment with tunicamycin completely abolished the RCS A alpha chain heterogeneity, whereas exposure to neuraminidase removed the charge heterogeneity, but not the size heterogeneity. Parallel studies of the syngeneic T cell proliferative response to RCS showed that tunicamycin abolished, while neuraminidase enhanced, the ability of RCS cells to stimulate syngeneic T cells. It is suggested that polysaccharide chains on RCS I-A molecules are particularly important for the biologic properties of these lymphoma cells. The possibility that highly glycosylated I-A antigens on normal B cell blasts are also involved in the stimulation of syngeneic T cells is discussed.

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