The immunization of C57BL/6 responder mice with spleen cells from H-2-matched BALB.B donors, which differ by multiple non-H-2 histocompatibility (H) antigens, results in the generation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) that are specific for only a limited number of immunodominant antigens. Previous analysis of the genes encoding these dominant antigens has not mapped these genes to any of the non-H-2 H loci defined by congenic strains. It would have been expected that the histogenetic techniques employed for congenic strain selection would have preferentially identified the "strongest" H antigens. Therefore, we have investigated the possibility that immunodominant antigens do not belong to the class of non-H-2 H antigens encoded by genes mapping to H loci defined and mapped by congenic strains. The first experiments were aimed at identifying antigens that were expressed by independently derived inbred strains and were cross-reactive with the immunodominant cytotoxic T cell target (CTT-1) antigen of BALB.B. Strong cross-reaction with the C3H.SW (H-2b) strain was observed; the C3H gene encoding this antigen was mapped with BXH recombinant inbred strains. Contrary to the mapping of the CTT-1 gene to chromosome 1 in BALB.B, the C3H gene was shown to map to either chromosome 4 or chromosome 7. This result indicates that identical, or at least extensively cross-reactive, non-H-2 antigens may be encoded by genes mapping to independently segregating loci in different inbred strains. The tissue distribution of immunodominant antigens was approached by determining the reactivity of CTL specific for these antigens with either lymphoid-derived or fibroblast-derived targets. These CTL effectively lysed lymphoblast and lymphoid tumor targets but did not lyse an SV40-transformed fibroblast line that was shown to be efficiently lysed by CTL specific for non-H-2 H antigens defined by congenic strains. Therefore, it was concluded that immunodominant antigens detected by B6 anti-BALB.B CTL have a restricted tissue distribution in comparison to non-H-2 H antigens defined by congenic strains. The implications of these results for our understanding of the origin and heterogeneity of non-H-2 cell-surface antigen recognized by effector T cells are discussed.

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