The antigen-like activity of monoclonal antibodies directed at the T3-Ti antigen receptor complex of human T lymphocytes was employed to study activation requirements of resting T cells. Efficient antigen recognition (signal 1) by T lymphocytes requires multimeric antigen receptor triggering because under appropriate experimental conditions soluble ligands do not produce this initial signal for T cell activation. The latter leads to receptiveness for both interleukin 1 (IL 1) and interleukin 2 (IL 2). Importantly, induction of proliferation requires an additional signal (signal 2), namely IL 1, which appears to be required to enable optimal secretion of IL 2. In contrast, presensitized T lymphocytes do not require IL 1 for IL 2 production. In this case, antigen receptor oligomerization is in itself sufficient to induce IL 2 receptor expression, and IL 2 secretion as well.

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