The requirements for inducing Lyt-2+ T cell proliferation in response to concanavalin A (Con A) were examined. Purified Lyt-2+ or L3T4+ spleen cells of C57BL/6 origin were stimulated with Con A and syngeneic macrophages (MO) in the presence of monoclonal antibodies to T cell markers or to polymorphic determinants on major histocompatibility complex molecules, and assessed for the ability to proliferate and to produce interleukin (IL) 2. alpha I-Ab failed to inhibit the Con A response of Lyt-2+ cells at dilutions that significantly inhibited the response of L3T4+ cells. In contrast, alphaKb/Db or alpha Lyt-2.2 specifically inhibited the response of Lyt-2+ cells, but not L3T4+ cells. The ability of alpha Kb/Db and of alpha Lyt-2.2 to inhibit the response of Lyt-2+ cells was dependent upon the concentration of Con A. These data demonstrate that optimal triggering of T cell subsets to proliferate and to produce IL-2 in response to Con A requires interactions with the appropriate restricting major histocompatibility complex molecule. The role of accessory cells in Lyt-2+ Con A-induced proliferation and IL-2 production was also investigated. Purified Lyt-2+ cells and purified L3T4+ cells failed to respond to Con A in the absence of MO. IL-1 reconstituted the response when MO were limiting, but failed to restore the response of either Lyt-2+ or L3T4+ cells when T cells were rigorously purified to remove all MO. These results demonstrate that triggering Lyt-2+ T cells, like L3T4+ T cells, requires accessory cells, and that this does not merely reflect a requirement for IL-1 production. Thus, Con A-induced proliferation and IL-2 production by Lyt-2+ T cells requires intimate contact with accessory cells and interactions dependent upon the class I-restricting element.

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