We have previously reported the characterization of mAb derived against NC-37 target cells. mAb 18C2 and 1E7 inhibit fish cytotoxicity by binding to target cells and thus preventing the formation of conjugates with fish nonspecific cytotoxic cells (NCC). It was therefore presumed that these inhibitory mAb were specific for the target cell Ag necessary for effector cell recognition. mAb 1D4 and 7C6 bind to NC-37 cells but do not inhibit fish cytotoxic activity. We now report the isolation and purification of the Ag recognized by mAb 18C2 (inhibitor) and 1D4 (noninhibitor) by affinity chromatography of solubilized NC-37 target cell extracts. The 18C2-purified soluble target Ag (STAg) caused inhibition of cytotoxicity when preincubated with fish NCC. This inhibitory activity was reversible and dose-dependent ranging from 20 to 70% inhibition with 25 to 100 micrograms 18C2 purified STAg/10(6) NCC. STAg purified by 1D4 affinity chromatography had no effect on fish cytotoxicity. mAb 18C2 and 1E7 preabsorbed with 18C2 STAg lost their inhibitory activity when tested in the fish NCC cytotoxicity assay. Preabsorption of the same mAb with 1D4 STAg had no effect on their activity.

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