Recent studies suggested that the clonally unique Ti epitopes defined by non-cross-reactive monoclonal antibodies might represent the variable regions of the antigen receptor. Here we determine whether such anti-Ti antibodies could trigger clonal T cell activation. Anticlonotypic monoclonal antibodies to the 49/43-kdalton heterodimer of a given clone or antibodies to the 20/25-kdalton membrane associated monomorphic T3 molecule selectively induce proliferation and IL-2 secretion when linked to a solid support. In contrast, anti-T4 and anti-T8 antibodies under the same conditions have no effect. In conclusion, these results imply that anticlonotypic antibody functions in a fashion analogous to antigen and further support the notion that the T3-Ti molecular complex represents the antigen receptor on human T lymphocytes.

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