Functional studies of both polyclonal and antigen-specific responses have suggested that murine B cells differ in the expression of an antigen recognized by a rat anti-mouse monoclonal antibody, called J11d. Using both positive and negative selection, we now demonstrate that the J11d marker is differentially displayed on B lymphocytes responding to LPS vs anti-mu, as well as on unprimed vs specific antigen-primed B cells. Thus, cytotoxic elimination of cells expressing high levels of J11d (J11d-hi) reduced LPS-driven B cell proliferation by 60 to 80% but had no effect on anti-mu stimulated B cell growth. Interestingly, equal numbers of positively selected J11d-hi B cells responded similarly to LPS and anti-mu plus B cell growth factors, a result that suggests that the response to anti-mu of the J11d-lo B cells is normally masked by the majority J11-d-hi cells. In further studies, the primary PFC response of normal murine spleen cells to fluorescein (FL)-coupled TI antigens or to LPS in vitro was reduced dramatically by cytotoxic J11d antibody treatment. In contrast, the anti-FL PFC response of spleen cells from mice primed 1 wk previously with FL-Ficoll was not affected by J11d antibody treatment, whereas the response of these FL-primed B cells to TNP (to which the mice were not primed) was greatly reduced by J11d + complement treatment. Our data indicate that antigen-experienced (activated) B cells are primarily found in the J11d-lo B cell subset and that unprimed (resting) B cells are found in the J11d-hi population, although both populations of murine B cells can respond to anti-mu. These studies also provide further evidence for B cell heterogeneity.

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