Immune cells induced by bovine serum albumin (BSA) and its methylated derivative (MBSA) have been compared in a cooperative cell transfer system for their content of BSA-specific antibody-forming cell precursors (AFCP, B) and BSA-specific helper (T) cells. When MBSA immune cells were transferred together with hapten-primed cells into recipient mice which were stimulated by a hapten-BSA conjugate, their cooperative secondary anti-hapten response was as good as in case of transferred BSA immune cells. Their secondary anti-BSA response, however, was markedly reduced (reduction factor > 30). Hapten-MBSA conjugates had the same capacity to react with BSA-specific helper cells in the cooperative secondary anti-hapten response as hapten-BSA conjugates but had a reduced ability to react with BSA-specific AFCP cells. In spite of the pronounced reduction of the B cell response, MBSA had the same threshold dose as BSA for activating BSA-specific T cells.
These data suggest that B and T cells recognize different epitopes on the BSA molecule, only those recognized by B cells being affected by the methylation procedure.