In recent studies we have found that GAT not only fails to elicit a GAT-specific response in nonresponder mice but also specifically decreases the ability of nonresponder mice to develop a GAT-specific PFC response to a subsequent challenge with GAT bound to the immunogenic carrier, MBSA. Studies presented in this paper demonstrate that B cells from nonresponder, DBA/1 mice rendered unresponsive by GAT in vivo can respond in vitro to GAT-MBSA if exogenous, carrier-primed T cells are added to the cultures. The unresponsiveness was shown to be the result of impaired carrier-specific helper T-cell function in the spleen cells of GAT-primed mice.
Spleen cells from GAT-primed mice specifically suppressed the GAT-specific PFC response of spleen cells from normal DBA/1 mice incubated with GAT-MBSA. This suppression was prevented by pretreatment of GAT-primed spleen cells with anti-θ serum plus C or X irradiation. Identification of the suppressor cells as T cells was confirmed by the demonstration that suppressor cells were confined to the fraction of the column-purified lymphocytes which contained θ-positive cells and a few non-Ig-bearing cells. The significance of these data to our understanding of Ir-gene regulation of the immune response is discussed.