Vaccination of mice with tumor-derived idiotypic IgM from the B cell lymphoma, BCL1, induces an anti-idiotypic immune response which suppresses tumor development. One of the mechanisms by which tumor cells can escape attack is by failing to express significant levels of idiotypic immunoglobulin at the cell surface, and a stable variant of this phenotype has been isolated. The variant, termed SNAG 1, continues to synthesize idiotypic IgM, which can be detected in the cytoplasm, but it neither secretes nor expresses IgM on the cell surface (less than 10% of the levels of the original BCL tumor), even though the H and L chains show no gross structural changes. The SNAG 1 cells resemble the parent BCL cells in morphology, in expression of MHC class I and II Ag and in bearing FcR. A significant difference between the BCL lymphoma cells and the variant cells is that the latter fail to respond to LPS by either DNA synthesis or secretion of IgM, suggesting that surface Ig might be required for such a response. The variant has a slower rate of division than the parent tumor both in vitro and in vivo, and a rather different organ distribution. Study of such variants might allow analysis of the mechanisms involved in surface Ig expression and its possible role in tumor cell growth and migration.

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