Mouse spleen cells can be stimulated to proliferate in vitro by purified anti-mu or anti-gamma,kappa antibodies. These responses can be obtained in cell populations bearing membrane immunoglobulin (Ig), purified by the fluorescence activated cell sorter (FACS), but they are not observed in FACS-purified Ig- cell populations. Furthermore, treatment of spleen cell populations with anti-Thy 1.2 and complement does not impair the response, nor does addition of nylon wool-purified T lymphocytes enhance it. These results indicate that B lymphocytes respond to anti-Ig and that their response does not require T cells. On the other hand, cells from athymic nude (nu/nu) mice respond slightly less well to anti-mu than do cells from heterozygous littermate (nu/+) controls; nu/nu cells are almost unresponsive to anti-gamm,kappa and addition of nylon wool-purified T cells from nu/+ controls does not restore the response. This suggests that T lymphocytes or the thymus may control the appearance of cells responsive to anti-gamma,kappa. Responsiveness of normal mice to anti-mu does not appear until 4 wk of age and does not reach maximum levels until 8 wk of age. Acquisition of full responsiveness to anti-gamma,kappa is even more delayed. This, together with the failure of mice with the CBA/N B-cell defect to respond to anti-Ig, suggests that cells stimulated to proliferate by anti-Ig are a mature subset of B cells. Depletion of adherent cells by Sephadex G-10 treatment or by treatment with carbonyl iron and exposure to a magnetic field does not diminish anti-mu or anti-gamma,kappa responses, suggesting that the responsiveness does not require the presence of macrophages. Thus, activation of B-cell proliferation by anti-Ig appears to be a T-cell independent, macrophage-independent process in which membrane Ig plays a direct role in signal generation.

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