Two lines of mice have been separated by selective breeding for the character "agglutinin production to heterologous erythrocytes." Around the 18th generation of selection the two lines could be considered as homozygous for the character investigated. This trait is under the control of a group of additive genes. The interline difference in the production of anti-SE agglutinins was verified for the range of antigen doses from subimmunogenic to maximal. After intravenous immunization with an optimal dose of SE, the duration of the exponential rise in serum antibody was 4–5 days in both lines. At this time most of the interline difference in responsiveness is already expressed. A cytodynamic study carried out in terms of plaque-forming cells (PFC) and rosette-forming cells (RFC) in the spleen during the exponential phase showed that the principal interline difference is found in the doubling time of cells engaged in the immune response.
More precise cytodynamic analysis made in terms of RFC showed that the doubling time of RFC is 9 hr in high responder and 16 hr in low responder mice. The duration of the exponential rise and the number of target cells stimulated by antigen is the same in both lines. The interline difference at the end of the exponential rise (4 days postimmunization) is larger in terms of serum antibody (30–40-fold) than in terms of PFC or RFC (20- and 11-fold, respectively).
A morphological study of RFC in nonimmunized mice showed that about 90% of rosettes were formed by small lymphocytes in both lines. The remainder were medium-sized lymphocytes. At the peak of the cellular response the RFC have differentiated into large lymphocytes, blast cells, and plasma cells. The contribution of plasma cells to RFC is much greater in the high than in the low line. The cytodynamic and morphologic results presented in this article are compatible with the hypothesis that the group of genes segregated in each line during the selective breeding control and regulate the rate of multiplication and differentiation of the antibody-producing cells.