Trinitrophenylated syngeneic spleen cells (TNP-SC) are potent tolerogens of the anti-TNP plaque-forming cell (PFC) response in vivo and in vitro. This unresponsive state requires T cells for both its induction and maintenance. Because H-2K/D-restricted cytotoxic T cells are also induced by exposure to TNP-SC, we determined the role(s) of histocompatibility antigens (K, I, and D) in the suppression of the PFC response by TNP-SC. We treated syngeneic TNP-modified stimulator cells with antiserum directed at K-, I-, or D-region determinants and found that blocking of H-2K or D antigens on TNP-SC transformed these tolerogens into immunogens capable of eliciting an anti-TNP PFC response in the absence of extrinsic immunogens like TNP-polymerized flagellin. In H-2k or H-2a(k/d) mice, only H-2Kk needs to be blocked on the stimulator cells, whereas H-2K or D recognition was apparent in B10.A(4R) mice. These observations indicate that suppression of the PFC response by TNP-SC shows the same restriction in recognition as does the cytotoxic T-cell response. Furthermore, our results suggest that TNP-I-A is recognized by the helper cells in this system as the intrinsic antigen. When both TNP-K and TNP-I-A are present and available on the same stimulator cell, suppression (via modified K recognition) is dominant over help.

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