Guinea pigs immunized with the hapten 2,4-dinitrophenyl (DNP) coupled directly to Mycobacterium tuberculosis of strain H37Ra (DNP-H37) show a variety of cell-mediated immune responses to DNP coupled to protein carriers. The cells responsible for this specific response are thought to be T lymphocytes for the following reasons: Guinea pigs immunized with DNP-H37 displayed delayed hypersensitivity reactions to several DNP-proteins and contact sensitivity to dinitrofluorobenzene. Peritoneal exudate lymphocytes (PELs) obtained from DNP-H37 immune animals respond to DNP-proteins with DNA systhesis and cause inhibition of macrophage migration. PELs are highly enriched in T lymphocytes and contain few immunoglobulin-bearing cells. Further depletion of immunoglobulin-bearing cells from this population does not diminish the in vitro proliferative response to antigen. Nitrophenyl conjugates of proteins lacking a paranitro group stimulated DNA synthesis poorly or not at all, indicating the importance of the paranitro group of DNP in antigen recognition by T cells in this system. In this respect, the specificity of T cells resembles that of DNP-specific antibody from the same animals. On the other hand, DNP conjugates of copolymers of glutamic acid and lysine and DNP conjugated to proteins via an interposed beta-alanyl-glycyl-glycyl spacer failed to stimulate DNA synthesis, although such compounds bind very efficiently to anti-DNP antibody. By contrast, DNP conjugates of synthetic polypeptide carriers containing as little as 7% tyrosine strongly stimulated DNA synthesis in DNP-H37 immune PELs. That the determinant responsible for this stimulation was DNP coupled to the hydroxyl group of tyrosine was shown by selective removal of DNP from tyrosine by thiolysis with 2-mercaptoethanol, which abolished their ability to stimulate T cells.

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