B cells and Ia+ thyroid cells fail to stimulate alloreactive T cells in a primary mixed leukocyte reaction (MLR) and fail to activate some allo-class II (I-A) reactive T cell hybridomas. We now demonstrate that B cells can specifically stimulate a primary MLR in combination with the phorbol ester, PMA, but not with interleukin 1 (IL 1) or calcium ionophore. The primary MLR induced with B cells plus PMA can be blocked by either monoclonal anti-I-A or anti-L3T4 antibodies. In contrast, thyroid cells that can be induced to express Ia antigens after incubation with interferon-gamma fail to stimulate a primary MLR even in the presence of PMA or IL 1. We confirmed these observations by using the alloreactive T cell hybridoma, HTB-9.3, which does not react to stimulator B cells. In the presence of PMA, however, this I-Ab-specific hybridoma line was able to respond to relevant but not to control stimulator B cells. Furthermore, the response of HTB-9.3 to B cells plus PMA was also blocked by anti-I-A or anti-L3T4 antibody. In contrast to B cells, Ia+ thyroid cells could not activate HTB-9.3 even in the presence of PMA or IL 1. The data indicate that for primary class II restricted allo-responses, B cells provide signals that can be complemented with the phorbol ester PMA, whereas Ia+ thyroid cells do not, suggesting the existence of additional requirements for T cell activation.

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