We have compared the functional properties of I-Ad expressed on different cell types. Specifically, we have transfected I-A alpha d and I-A beta d cDNA into a panel of T cell thymomas of various phenotypes. Excellent class II surface expression was achieved in all T cell tumors, equivalent in level to that found on the B cell lymphoma A20. Interestingly, however, two allo-I-Ad-specific Thy differed in their recognition of the transfected tumor cells: whereas the 42H11 T cell hybridoma (THy) was stimulated very efficiently by all transfectants, the RK38.2.2 Thy did not react to any of them. Both THy responded equally well to I-Ad on A20 B lymphoma cells. Purified macrophages isolated from various sources were also differentially recognized by the two THy, although there was only a quantitative difference in stimulation. Taken together, these results are best interpreted to show that the TCR of the RK38.2.2 THy is specific for I-Ad in the context of a B cell-specific determinant, possibly a self-peptide that is naturally associated with Ia. A cross-reactive molecule could be expressed by macrophages and COS-1 cells, but not by T cells.

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