Serum from C57BL/6 (B6) mice hyperimmunized with NB-tropic Friend virus complex (FV) was cytotoxic for FV-induced erythroleukemic spleen cells and B6 Friend-murine leukemia virus (F-MuLV) lymphoma cells. Cytotoxic activity for erythroleukemia cells remained after repeated absorption of B6 anti-FV antiserum with Friend-Moloney-Rauscher MuLV lymphoma cells but was removed by absorption with erythroleukemia cells induced by FV or Rauscher Vrus. This serologic test system identified a previously unrecognized cell-surface antigen of mouse leukemia, designated Friend Erythroleukemia (FE) antigen to signify its appearance as a determinant of virally induced erythroleukemic differentiation. FE antigen was not detected on 15 transplanted or primary hematopoietic neoplasms, nor was it detected on cells infected with ecotropic, xenotropic, or dualtropic MuLV isolates in tissue culture. Two spleen focus-forming virus (SFFV) nonproducer cells of rats and one of mice express FE antigen in amounts comparable to primary erythroleukemia cells. Absorption tests with FE typing serum indicated that FE antigen was expressed on bone marrow and spleen but not thymus, lymph node, or peripheral blood of uninfected AKR, BALB/c, DBA, and SWR mice; all five tissues from B6 and C57L were negative. Quantitiative absorption tests indicated that the expression of FE antigen, though much lower than on erythroleukemic cells, was greatest on fetal liver, less on bone marrow, and lowest on spleen from BALB and SWR mice. Treatment of BALB/c or SWR fetal liver, bone marrow, spleen, thymus, or lymph node cells with FE typing serum did not result in significant lysis. These observations are consistent with the interpretation that FE antigen is expressed by a minor cell population present in fetal liver, bone marrow, and spleen. Expression of FE antigen, determined by absorption with bone marrow cells, cosegregated with inheritance of the Fv-2s allele in the 17 inbred, 7 recombinant inbred, and 4 congenic mouse strains tested. In summary, the FE antigenic system identifies a cell-surface determinant that has the properties of a SFFV-specified antigen and hematopoietic differentiation alloantigen controlled by the Fv-2 locus. The similarity of FE antigen to Abelson antigen may provide insight into the pathogenic properties of defective transforming MuLV.

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