The nature of the antibodies produced by the rabbit during the primary and secondary responses to T2 phage, proteins, and the O and H antigens of Salmonella typhosa has been determined. Immune sera have been fractionated by zone electrophoresis, sucrose density ultracentrifugation, and anion exchange chromatography. The resulting fractions have been assayed by phage neutralization or hemagglutination (antisera to proteins) or bacterial agglutination. In confirmation and extension of earlier work from this laboratory, the primary response to these antigens, with the exception of the O antigen of the Salmonella, included the early synthesis of 19S, γ-1 globulin antibody, and the later synthesis of 7S, γ-2 globulin antibody. The primary response to the O antigen consisted of the synthesis of only a macroglobulin agglutinin. The secondary response to the proteins, including the H antigen of the Salmonella, comprised the early synthesis of large amounts of the 7S γ-2 globulin antibody to the same level attained during the primary response. The secondary response to the phage consisted in the synthesis of 7S, γ-2 globulin antibody alone. Treatment of the macroglobulin phage-neutralizing antibody with mercaptoethanol resulted in complete loss of its neutralizing activity.
A working hypothesis to explain these observations was presented. A salient feature of this hypothesis was the suggestion that different cells synthesized the two distinct molecular forms of antibody. The significance of the sequential synthesis of the two forms of antibody is not known. It was proposed that the system for synthesis of macroglobulin antibody is an auxiliary system for antibody synthesis, perhaps the first to develop phylogenetically and ontogenetically. It is felt that the present observations indicate a clear-cut qualitative distinction between the primary and secondary responses to immunization whereby these responses might be identified in various experimental situations. It is also felt that these findings with the primary and secondary responses to various antigens in the rabbit may be of widespread occurrence in nature among a variety of species.