T cell activation may be triggered either through the T3-Ti antigen receptor complex or via an alternative macrophage-independent pathway involving the 50KD T11 sheep erythrocyte-binding glycoprotein. Monoclonal antibodies anti-T11(2) and anti-T11(3), directed at distinct epitopes of the T11 molecule, trigger mature T cells to proliferate and express their functional programs, and induce expression of IL 2 receptors on both T3+ and T3- thymocytes. We now show that a non-mitogenic anti-T3 antibody blocks activation via the T11 pathway of not only peripheral blood T cells, but also T3+ thymocytes. Anti-T3 does not affect surface expression of T11 or the rapid augmentation of T11(3) expression after incubation of cells with anti-T11(2). However, anti-T3 inhibits generation of IL 2 receptors and production of IL 2 by T lineage cells cultured with anti-T11(2) plus anti-T11(3). In contrast, modulation of the T11 molecule by a non-mitogenic anti-T11 antibody does not inhibit activation of T cells by a mitogenic anti-T3 antibody. The ability of anti-T3 to block expression of IL 2 receptors on both thymocytes and mature T cells activated by the T11 pathway suggests that a regulatory interaction may be important during T cell ontogeny to provide a mechanism for inhibiting expansion of autoreactive clones.

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