A method was established for isolating antigen-specific murine helper T cells by selective binding to antigen-pulsed macrophage (Mphi) monolayers. Sheep erythrocyte (SRBC)-primed T cells, which remained strongly adherent to SRBC-pulsed syngeneic Mphi after 20 h in culture, were markedly enriched for helper activity when tested in the in vitro antitrinitrophenol (TNP) response to TNP-SRBC. Successful binding and enrichment occurred only if the Mphi were pulsed with the specific antigen to which the T-cell donors had been primed. The genetic control governing helper function in this system was then examined by using primed F1 T cells isolated on Mphi monolayers from congenic strains bearing parental H-2 haplotypes. SRBC-primed BDF1 (H-2b X H-2d) T cells, which bound to SRBC-pulsed H-2d Mphi, subsequently functioned as helper cells in cultures containing H-2d B cells and Mphi, but not in those containing H-2b B cells and Mphi. They remained unable to collaborate with B cells of the H-2B haplotype even in the presence of additional H-2d Mphi, indicating that H-2 restriction occurs at least at the level of the B cell. Similary, primed BDF1 T cells isolated on H-2b Mphi cooperated preferentially with H-2b B cells and Mphi. In both cases, the haplotype preference of the T cell was not due to alloreactive suppressor activity. These results suggest that primed F1 mice contain individual populations of helper T cells, each of which recognize antigen in association with a parental H-2 gene product(s) expressed during both Mphi-T cell and T cell-B cell interactions.

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