Idiotypic IgM derived from a B cell lymphoma can act as a tumor-associated Ag, in that immunization with this purified protein generates an anti-idiotypic immune response that specifically suppresses tumor development. Spleens of immune mice contain T cells that proliferate in response to idiotypic IgM. However, idiotypic Ag is presented to the T cells most efficiently in its natural form at the surface of the lymphoma cells, than as soluble IgM plus presenting cells. Variant tumors that display either little or no idiotypic IgM at the cell surface, but which are otherwise indistinguishable from parental tumor, induce a weak response or fail to stimulate the T cells, respectively. Anti-idiotypic lines and clones have been derived from the splenic T cells by growth in the presence of irradiated tumor cells. Phenotypic analysis revealed that cells from both lines and clones express CD3 and CD4 Ag, but not CD8. Recognition of tumor Id, which required no added presenting cells, was inhibited by antibody against MHC class II Ag, and variably by anti-CD4. Proliferative responses were inhibited by anti-idiotypic antibodies, but also by antibodies against the constant region of the mu H chain, indicating that perturbation of the surface IgM abrogates availability of idiotypic determinants to the T cells.

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