We have examined the expression of TCR genes in 4-hydroxy-3-nitrophenyl-acetyl (NP)-specific Ts cell hybridomas. Each of three independently isolated hybridomas expressed in-frame TCR alpha-chain rearrangements derived from the original suppressor Ts cell. Different V alpha and J alpha gene segments were rearranged and expressed in each Ts cell line. The only TCR beta-chain expressed in these cells was derived from the BW5147 fusion partner. Expression of the BW5147 beta-chain was found to correlate with cell surface Ag binding, inasmuch as subclones derived from one of the original Ts lines expressed greatly reduced levels of beta-chain mRNA and no longer bound to NP-coupled RBC. Subclones that continued to express beta-chain mRNA did bind to NP-coupled RBC. This suggests that the Ag receptor on Ts hybridomas is a TCR-alpha beta dimer composed of a unique alpha-chain and the BW5147 beta-chain. Ag binding could be modulated by preincubation of Ts hybridoma cells with anti-TCR-alpha beta antibody, thereby supporting this conclusion. Suppressor factor activity was measured in the conditioned media of Ts subclones that differed by 250-fold in levels of beta-chain mRNA expression. No difference in suppressor factor activity was found; conditioned media from these subclones suppressed both plaque-forming cell responses and delayed-type hypersensitivity responses at approximately equivalent dilutions. Suppressor factor activity in the conditioned media of both a beta-chain negative subclone and a beta-chain positive subclone could be absorbed with an antibody that recognizes the TCR alpha-chain, but not with an antibody that recognizes the TCR beta-chain. We conclude that suppressor factor activity in the conditioned media of these Ts hybridomas is not derived from surface TCR-alpha beta receptors, although it does share TCR alpha-chain determinants.

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