This study was undertaken to determine the nature of the antigens recognized in allogeneic and syngeneic mixed leukocyte reactions (MLR). Specifically, we wished to determine whether Ia antigens alone were recognized by MLR-reactive T cells, or whether the specificity was determined by the corecognition of non-MHC antigens together with syngeneic or allogeneic Ia. To do this we used 11 T cell hybrids that were characterized as being specific for Iad and were tested their capacity to respond to isolated I-Ad or I-Ed that had been incorporated into liposomes and had bound to the surface of glass beads. Of nine alloreactive T cell hybrids (five I-Ad-and four I-Ed-specific), seven were shown to be responsive to the relevant isolated Ia antigen on glass beads. Also, two of two syngeneic I-Ad-specific T cell hybrids responded to I-Ad on the glass beads. One of the two alloreactive T cell hybrids that failed to respond to the relevant Ia antigen on glass beads was shown to be specific for an antigen in fetal calf serum (FCS) that was recognized in the context of the allo-Ia antigen (I-Ed), because when intact accessory cells were used, a response by this hybrid was only observed when FCS was present in the assay culture medium or when the accessory cells were pre-pulsed with FCS. The possible involvement of FCS antigens and non-Ia accessory cell antigens in the stimulation of the nine T cell hybrids that responded to isolated Ia on glass beads was evaluated. T cell hybrids that were grown and were tested in serum free medium were still capable of reacting to Ia on beads. The isolated Ia preparations used were greater than 90% pure, and their capacity to stimulate the T cell hybrids did not correlate with the degree of contamination with non-Ia proteins. We conclude from these studies that the majority of T cells that respond to allogeneic or syngeneic Ia bearing stimulator cells are specific for the Ia antigens themselves, and do not require the co-recognition of other non-Ia antigens; nor is there any requirement for Ia antigen processing for this recognition.

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