The proliferative response of mouse lymphocytes to syngeneic cellular stimulation upon membrane modification with lectins was studied. Brief pretreatment of stimulator cells (mitomycin-C-treated spleen cells) followed by mixed culture with syngeneic cortisone-resistant thymocytes resulted in a significant proliferative response in the thymocytes. This effect was not due to a soluble mediator and was similar to the mitogenic response after Con A-induced membrane modification reported previously. Because of its general characteristics, we refer to this response as cell-mediated mitogenic response (CMMR). Cell contact between stimulator and responder cells was necessary but not sufficient for the induction of the response. The lectins that generated CMMR were T-cell mitogens. CMMR was generated in all the syngeneic combinations tested and even in allogeneic combinations. No detectable cytotoxic activity towards syngeneic targets cells was produced after CMMR. Moreover, CMMR in allogeneic combinations led to the suppression of the generation of specific cytotoxic lymphocytes. Population analysis with antibodies against T or B cells, nylon wool fractionation of stimulator cells, and tests with peritoneal macrophages and with spleen cells from athymic mice revealed that CMMR depends predominantly on the interaction between responder T cells and stimulator Ig-positive lymphocytes.

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