Toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 (TSST-1)-binding structures present on murine lymphoid tissues were investigated by using 125I-TSST-1. T-depleted C57BL/6 spleen cells incubated with TSST-1 for 3 h at 0 degree C were mitogenic to splenic T cells, indicating that the former cells bind and present TSST-1 to T cells. TSST-1-binding activity was observed in C57BL/6 splenic B cells and L cells transfected with I-Ab genes, but not in splenic T cells and control L cells. Scatchard plot analysis showed that these B cells and transfectants bound TSST-1 with similar binding affinity. SDS-PAGE analysis showed that lysates of C57BL/6 spleen cells and the I-Ab-positive transfectants contain a single band which bound TSST-1 and comigrated with I-Ab heterodimers. TSST-1-binding activity observed clearly in C57BL/6. BALB/c, and C3H/HeN spleen cells and L cells transfected with I-Ab or I-Ak genes was not reduced by paraformaldehyde fixation. Binding of 125I-TSST-1 to the three spleen cells was markedly reduced by anti-I-A antibodies, but not by anti-I-E antibodies. C57BL/6, C3H/HeN, and (C3H/HeN x C57BL/6) F1 T cells were activated by TSST-1 to proliferate and produce IL-2 in the presence of FT6.2 cells, LT1-30-3 cells and either of them, respectively, but not in the presence of control L cells. These results indicate that I-A molecules function as the structures via that accessory cells directly bind TSST-1 on the cell surface and present a triggering signal of TSST-1 to T cells.

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