In an attempt to obtain direct evidence for the critical role of HLA class II molecules in regulating the immune response, genomic genes for alpha- and beta-chains of HLA-DQw6 from HLA-Dw12 haplotype were introduced into the C57BL/6 (B6) strain of mouse and a line of HLA-DQw6 transgenic mouse was obtained. Tissue specificity of the expression of the transgenes was much the same as that of murine I-Ab genes. DQw6 molecules were expressed on B cells and macrophages in spleen cells and about 30 to 40% of the I-Ab+ spleen cells were positive for DQw6. The HLA-DQw6 transgenic B6 mouse became tolerant to the DQw6 molecules, as evidenced by the MLR and antibody production specific to the DQw6 molecules. The HLA-DQw6 transgenic B6 mouse showed a strong immune response to streptococcal cell wall antigen (SCW), whereas the B6 mouse was a low responder to SCW. The SCW-specific T cell line was established from the transgenic mouse and this T cell line recognized SCW in the context of HLA-DQw6 molecules expressed on the mouse L cell transfectant or on human monocytes. The proliferative response to SCW of primed lymph node T cells and the SCW-specific T cell line derived from the transgenic mice was inhibited by anti-HLA-DQ mAb. Thus, it is clear that the HLA-DQw6 genes acted as major histocompatibility genes in these transgenic mice.

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