A recently described HLA gene, SB, which maps between GLO and HLA-DR, codes for Ia-like molecules that are similar to but distinct from HLA-DR molecules. Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) specific for SB1, SB2, SB3, and SB4 were compared with HLA-A2-specific CTL with respect to their surface expression of the T cell differentiation antigens OKT3, OKT4, and OKT8. All CTL activity was eliminated by treatment with OKT3 and C'. The SB-specific cytotoxicity was eliminated by OKT4 plus C' but not by OKT8 plus C'. In contrast, HLA-A2-specific killing was completely susceptible to treatment with OKT8 plus C' but not with OKT4 plus C'. Cytotoxicity was analyzed in the presence of OKT8 and a series of monoclonal antibodies (OKT4A, 4B, 4C, and 4D) that react with distinct epitopes on the OKT4 molecule. SB1-, SB3-, and SB4-specific CTL were partially inhibited by OKT4A and 4B (45-75%), whereas HLA-A2-specific CTL were partially inhibited by OKT8 (48-63%) but not by OKT4. SB2-specific CTL were not inhibited (less than 26%) by OKT8 or by any of the OKT4-related antibodies. These results suggest that the OKT4 marker may be expressed on most T cells that recognize allogeneic Ia or self Ia plus foreign antigens; OKT4+ cells do not appear to be functionally homogeneous in that they can act both as helper/inducer and cytotoxic cells. Models are proposed for the functional involvement of the OKT4 molecule in T cell-Ia antigen interactions.

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