L-Tyrosine azobenzene-p-arsonate (RAT) induced cellular immunity without antibody production in guinea pigs. Bifunctional antigens were prepared consisting of one RAT carrier moiety linked either directly to a dinitrophenyl (DNP) haptenic determinant or through one or more 6-amino-caproyl (SAC) spacers. Each SAC unit has an extended span of 8 A. Guinea pigs immunized with these conjugates developed cellular immunity directed against the RAT determinant and antibody specific for the DNP determinant. The anti-DNP response was the same with one or three SAC spacers, but was significantly weaker when the two determinants were joined without a spacer. Animals immunized with either DNP-SAC-TYR or DNP-TYR developed neither cellular nor humoral immunity. Prior immunization with RAT potentiated the secondary anti-hapten response to DNP-SAC-RAT.
Modification of RAT at either the arsonate or tyrosine positions showed that other charged groups (sulfonate and trimethylammonium) could substitute for arsonate without loss of immunogenicity. Removal of either the amino or carboxyl group from the side chain of tyrosine did not abolish immunogenicity, but immunogenicity was lost upon removal of both.
Immunization with symmetrical bifunctional RAT-(SAC)n-RAT and cyclo-(L-RAT-D-RAT) antigens led to cellular immunity but no anti-arsonate antibody, suggesting a barrier to "self-help." These compounds were also ineffective in inducing a secondary anti-arsonate response in animals primed with arsonate-BSA conjugates and RAT.