Con A-activated rat thymocytes were used to immunize mice, and immune spleen cells were fused with NS/1 myeloma cells. One clone, designated 5C6-F4, reacted strongly with Con A-activated rat thymocytes and some LPS-activated rat spleen cells but not with normal thymocytes, spleen cells, or bone marrow cells of rat origin. The 5C6-F4 did not react with Con A-activated thymocytes of mouse origin. Immunoprecipitation of 5C6-F4 antigen from surface-iodinated Con A-activated rat thymocytes or LPS-activated rat spleen cells revealed its m.w. to be approximately 100,000. The kinetic studies of the expression of 5C6-F4 antigen revealed that 5C6-F4 antigen was detectable at 6 hr after Con A stimulation of rat spleen cells, whereas IL 2 receptor (IL 2R) was detectable at 12 hr. The appearance of 5C6-F4 antigen and IL 2R precede the onset of DNA synthesis of Con A-activated spleen cells. Thus, 5C6-F4 antigen is classified as early activation antigen. The 5C6-F4 inhibits the lymphocyte proliferation induced by mitogen and the IL 2-driven rat T cell proliferation. Sequential immunoprecipitation study as well as binding inhibition study indicated that the 5C6-F4 antigen is distinct from IL 2R molecule. The 5C6-F4 antigen appears to be a novel rat lymphocyte activation antigen that exhibits immunoregulatory function and also may serve as a useful marker of T cell activation.

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